Contrary to an earlier report, it appears much more likely than not that the Indianapolis Colts did not in fact offer former Houston Texans’ All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt more money than the 2-year, $31 million contract (with $23 million guaranteed) that he ultimately signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday:
Unless the #Colts, #Browns and #Titans are straight up lying, this is not what I’ve been told. I’ve been told by multiple Watt suitors that the $23 million guaranteed in Watt’s Arizona deal was near ceiling for their total $. Teams were trying to get Watt for roughly $12 mil per. https://t.co/elWPjOReD1— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 2, 2021
As soon as I saw the Indianapolis #Colts potentially offered MORE than the #Cardinals for @JJWatt I had to do some digging..— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 2, 2021
My source told me "Not true" #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/eenLr11IQt
Two reputable league sources have already indicated otherwise.
Not only this too, but it seems highly uncharacteristic of Colts general manager Chris Ballard to pay such a high premium for a 31 year old defensive lineman, who’s played just two full seasons over the past five seasons (having missed 32 starts over that same span)—and isn’t necessarily the most natural scheme fit defensively anyways.
Don’t get me wrong, the Colts may have very well had genuine interest for the 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 5x NFL First-Team All-Pro—but at their own price.
Watt’s coming off a standout season in which he had 52 tackles (36 solo), 14 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, 45 total QB pressures, an interception (returned for a touchdown), 7 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in all 16 starts during 2020.
Per PFF (subscription), Watt was their 7th best ranked edge with a +85.4 overall grade this past season.
However, as Ballard has shown consistently in Indianapolis, it’s that he’s not going to be the carefree bidder at the highly competitive auction who’s going to overpay.
Watt made sense for the Colts on a short-term deal, but he was clearly paid more than the Colts valued him at this stage of his career—given his age and lingering durability concerns.