The Cardinals reportedly have signed defensive lineman J.J. Watt to a two-year, $31 million deal with $23 million guaranteed. “Reportedly” is the key word because, frankly, there have been too many instances over the years where reporters rush to Twitter with whatever an agent tells them without scrutinizing or expressing skepticism about the information. (And, yes, I’ve been guilty of it, too.)
It’s entirely possible that theofficial numbers, which typically emerge long after the news cycle has cycled to other things, will support the initial reports regarding Watt’s deal. At a minimum, however, it’s safe to wonder whether the $23 million guaranteed is fully guaranteed, since the word “fully” wasn’t used in the initial reporting.
It’s also fair to question whether the base deal is $31 million or whether Watt needs to hit certain incentives to get there, or whether some of that money comes in the form of per-game roster bonuses, which will be paid only if he’s healthy enough to play.
Then there’s this question: What were other teams offering Watt? On the surface, it appears that Watt decided to chase the bag instead of chasing a ring, which is actually smart. Too many factors influence whether a team can and will win a Super Bowl. A paycheck, whatever the amount of it, never lies.
Indeed, Watt surely didn’t pick the Cardinals because he sees a clear path to SoFi Stadium next February. The Cardinals finished third in the division last year; they could be destined to finish third (or possibly fourth) in the toughest division in football next year. And then they’d have to deal with teams like the Buccaneers, Saints, and Packers to get to the Super Bowl.
One report originating from an Arizona radio station on Monday suggested that the Browns and Colts offered more money to Watt, and that the Titans’ offer was “very similar.” Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has since tweeted that, based on his information, Watt’s other suitors were in the range of $23 million over two years, not $31 million. “Teams were trying to get Watt for roughly $12 mil per year,” Robinson says.
That makes sense. And it would also make sense for the Cardinals to try to characterize their deal as not the outlier, especially to the tune of $7 million or $8 million.
Here’s what makes the most sense: Let’s see what the contract actually says, and let’s not get so caught up in the ever-spinning carousel of news that we accept reports as fact without the benefit of, you know, fact.