Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt has done everything in his Hall of Fame career – except to win a Vince Lombardi Trophy.
While the Arizona Cardinals should be in the hunt for a new head coach and general manager, plus a (near) complete rebuild, it doesn’t mean they must part ways with every key veteran on the roster. Given his 9.5-sack season that includes other accolades like 19 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for loss in 2022, defensive end J.J. Watt is one player the Redbirds should consider keeping around.
It will be a hard sell, since Watt will most likely seek to play for a contender in 2023. But the Cardinals may not be as far away from contention as one may think, even if they tore down part of the roster.
Sure, they might have a new coach on the sidelines next season, but there is also a lot of young and established talent who will return or who I’m projecting will return to the lineup. Those players include:
- Zach Allen*, Byron Murphy*, Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins, Marco Wilson, Budda Baker, and Jalen Thompson on defense.
- Kyler Murray, James Conner, DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Zach Ertz, D.J. Humphries, Rondale Moore, and Josh Jones on offense.
That’s 15 players. And no, you can’t call all of them great, and some are just above average. But they are serviceable enough to likely warrant a starting position on most if not all NFL teams. The Cardinals may need a rebuild to a degree, but they do have enough players in place so not to dismantle the team and start from scratch.
Arizona Cardinals must find a way to keep J.J. Watt
Case in point, there needs to be a rebuild to some degree, and we should see many of the established vets part ways following the season. As I’ve mentioned many times, for example, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Arizona Cardinals moved soon-to-be 31-year-old DeAndre Hopkins if the perceived compensation was high enough.
But if that move gives the Cardinals a marquee corner in the NFL Draft, plus a second first-round pick in the event they trade Hopkins to land an edge rusher, this team isn’t looking so bad. If they find a head coach who tailors the game plan to fit Kyler Murray, who should be back by September 2023, then the Redbirds could be in for a fast turnaround.
Most of the older players on this team deserve to be gone. But J.J. Watt is one who the front office – Steve Keim or anyone sitting in his seat – should at least consider keeping around. If they convince him to say, it will be a huge boost for the Arizona Cardinals.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)
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