Green Bay Packers Among “Leading Teams” to Land JJ Watt

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans reacts after batting down a pass in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans reacts after batting down a pass in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The JJ Watt watch continues on as Green Bay Packers fans, as well as several other fan bases, anxiously await his decision—whenever that may be.

As expected, the Packers were one of a dozen or so teams interested in landing the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, but on Wednesday, ESPN’s John Clayton reported that Green Bay, along with Tennessee and Buffalo, “were the leading teams for JJ Watt,” with Cleveland and Las Vegas still in it.

This is slightly different from another tweet that was circulating that misinterpreted what Clayton had said. Watt has actually not narrowed his list down — or at least not that anyone knows of — to only three teams, but the fact that the Packers are one of the leading teams despite their cap situation is still a good sign for fans.

Last week, Ed Werder of ESPN reported that Watt has three primary factors when it comes to deciding where he will play next. The first is the quarterback, followed by the supporting cast, and lastly, money.

When it comes to the Green Bay Packers, as I highlighted in a recent article, they meet two of those three considerations with ease. At quarterback, they have Aaron Rodgers, the reigning league MVP. And on defense, the supporting cast consists of Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, and Adrian Amos—that’s quite a talented group he’d be joining.

Where the issue arises is with money and the salary cap. After restructuring David Bakhtiari’s deal along with cutting Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey, Green Bay still finds themselves $11.4 million above the projected salary cap, according to Over the Cap.

Now, there are ways to free up additional cap space, including veteran cuts (Preston Smith, Dean Lowry, and Devin Funchess come to mind). They can also extend Davante Adams, who is in the final year of his deal, and restructure Rodgers’ and Z. Smith’s contracts as well.

On top of that, while Watt was owed $17.5 million this upcoming season in Houston, as Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated recently reported, he isn’t commanding that dollar amount on the open market, which plays into the cap-strapped Packers’ hands.

So with Green Bay hitting two of the three requirements that Watt has, and it looking like they could potentially make the money work as well, how do they stack up compared to the two other “leading teams,” Buffalo and Tennessee?

Well, at quarterback, Josh Allen of the Bills is coming off a very good season in his own right, making a huge Year 3 leap. His completion percentage skyrocketed to 69.2 percent; he totaled over 4,500 passing yards with 37 touchdowns and a passer rating of 107.2–even receiving a few MVP votes.

However, while Allen is ascending, heading into the new season, I’d still give the Packers with Rodgers the edge in this category.

Meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill had a solid season of his own, completing 65.5 percent of his throws for 3,819 yards with 33 touchdowns and a passer rating of 106.5. But when compared to Rodgers and Allen, he is QB3.

As far as defenses go, the Green Bay Packers certainly have the talent but didn’t see the consistent production. Buffalo’s defense ranked 12th by DVOA and 16th in points per game, while Tennessee ranked 29th and 24th in those respective categories.

For reference, the Packers’ defensive unit ranked 17th by DVOA and 13th in points per game.

When it comes to money and cap space, Green Bay is by far in the worst position of these three teams, sitting at $11.4 million over the salary cap as mentioned above. Tennessee finds themselves just $2.19 million over, and Buffalo is in even better shape at a negligible $1.01 million over at the moment.

The Green Bay Packers have the biggest hurdles to climb when it comes to making room for Watt, but they are sitting comfortably in the other two areas.

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As we have been, we will continue playing the waiting game, and as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN points out, “nothing is imminent” when it comes to Watt’s decision.