By nearly every measurable metric, 2020 was the worst year on record for basically anyone who isn’t an immortal. Between COVID’s impact on the lives of far too many people, to the economic fallout inherent when you have zero federal oversight or assistance (I’m not pushing my political beliefs, rather parroting the reality of a situation in which hospitals and states had to compete with one another for life saving equipment), to the even more unshakeable and annoying virus that spread to Tampa last fall in Tom Brady who won his 1.6 millionth Super Bowl.
It’s just been bad.
There are some good things coming on the horizon, though, as the vaccine(s) is on the way, and when it comes to the NFL? We’re looking at what might be the most landscape altering off-season in league history. Matthew Stafford is already in LA, there’s rumblings in the Pacific Northwest that Russell Wilson wants more protection and power while the Seahawk management want him to stop openly speaking on or near a camera.
There’s DeShaun “Anywhere but Houston… or Minnesota” Watson, and even talks that Aaron Rodgers may want out of Green Bay at some point.
Then you have the most recent league shattering news that the Houston Texans released JJ Watt. Watt, an injury plagued but otherwise perfect player and pillar of whatever community he is in, is now the talk of the NFL with site after site prognosticating as to where the big fella may end up.
Enter this article from Yahoo! Sports-
That lays out the 5 possible destinations for Watt. Two of which are NFC North squads, none of which are the Vikings. So, excitement over.
What teams did he point to? Let’s find out!
Green Bay Packers
Watt is a Wisconsin native and a self-avowed Packers fan as a kid, having grown up two hours down the road from Green Bay, just outside Milwaukee.
The Packers just made a second straight NFC title game, and Watt is believed to want to join a contender. Those two elements are two huge selling points, as Watt would walk in the door a beloved figure in Wisconsin again after starring there in his college days.
Watt and Aaron Rodgers also are said to have a healthy relationship, with each going out of their way to praise the other in their years of competing against one another. Even so, there was a fun moment back in 2012 when Watt sacked Rodgers and mocked his “Discount Double Check” celebration of yore.
This pairing isn’t hard to envision, and it would help boost a Packers front that had Kenny Clark but few other standouts last season. Green Bay has the ability to free up enough cap space to make this happen, we suspect.
The other team?
This is our long shot of the lot, but it wouldn’t be stunning to see the Bears make a run at Watt in a critical season for head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace.
For the Bears’ brass, it would be an opportunity to sell the franchise’s love affair with defense and perhaps send signals to other prospective free agents that they’re serious about contending this season.
But for Watt to consider the Bears, they’d likely have to play up the idea of him being in the same city as his wife, Kealia Ohai Watt, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
It’s a stretch, and there’s the question of whether the Bears could afford Watt, but they’d have to make a run at him, even with major questions looming at quarterback and with the free-agent status of leading receiver Allen Robinson, who should be a higher priority if he’s interested in coming back.
Let’s break down my thoughts on these two potential destinations.
I hope to GOD that Watt doesn’t end up in his home state as, and this is breaking news I was just finally able to confirm, the Vikings offensive line has gone from ‘meh’ to ‘liability’ to ‘god awful’ to now, after a 2020 season that ended up with the unit doing WORSE in the annual PFF O-Line rankings than it had in 2018/2019 (which is saying something)? A level that we’ve had to mail away to NASA to get the correct math on just how bad the Vikings line is and was.
I wonder why guys like DeShaun Watson wouldn’t want to come here? Or people saying Russell Wilson? Who is angry because he played behind a unit in the mid-teens? Yeah, he’ll totally want to come play behind that line.
But Watt is still only 31, and with rest and a reason to care, he could become the force he once was (although he had a great year in 2020 in every level, per PFF, so I’m not saying he’s been awful or anything).
Having him on either the Packers or Bears? Especially a Bears line that’d have him, Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks?
Yeah, no thank you.
So let’s hope that he doesn’t fit in at either team for any reason, as the last thing we need is for our paper mache line to go up against that group of monsters twice a season.
Then again, the Vikings could sign him!
They’d just have to somehow run that defense with Watt, Danielle Hunter, some Eagan HS JV linebackers and cardboard cutouts of Joey Browner at safety, because we’re BROKE now and the full details of the COVID cap haven’t been announced.
It’s gonna be a fun off-season, though. Cough.