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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

Football

Was money the biggest factor in JJ Watt signing with Cardinals?

JJ Watt

JJ Watt shocked the NFL world on Monday when he signed with the Arizona Cardinals, especially after it had been widely reported that he wanted to play for a surefire Super Bowl contender. In the end, it seems like he followed the money.

Watt signed a two-year, $31 million deal with the Cardinals that includes $23 million guaranteed. One report claimed he turned down more money from other teams to sign with Arizona, but that has since been refuted.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media said Tuesday that the money Watt got was more than the other teams that wanted him were anticipating. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports was told that the $23 million guaranteed Watt is getting is closer to the total amount the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns offered.

That meshes with what Rapoport said, which is that teams anticipated Watt getting offers in the neighborhood of $12 million per year.

The Cardinals aren’t a bad team. They finished 8-8 last season and were inconsistent, but they have plenty of room to grow with Kyler Murray entering a pivotal third NFL season. That said, you could make the argument that Arizona is further from Super Bowl contention than almost all of the other teams that pursued Watt.

If you watched the emotional speech Watt gave (video here) following a Texans loss last season, you might get the impression that all he cares about is winning. His decision to sign with the Cardinals proves it is not quite that simple.

Patriots reportedly have this QB at top of their wish list

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots are facing an uncertain quarterback situation for the second consecutive offseason, but they reportedly have a Plan A in place. The question is whether or not they will be able to execute it.

According to Greg A. Bedard of Boston Sports Journal, the ideal scenario for the Patriots this offseason would be to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. The San Francisco 49ers would have to acquire another quarterback before they’d consider dealing Garoppolo, and they may be in the process of trying to do that.

The Niners have reportedly spoken with the Carolina Panthers about a potential trade for Teddy Bridgewater. As Bedard notes, Bridgewater is due to make $37 million in base salary over the next two seasons. The 49ers may feel they can get him for a reasonable price due to his contract and then flip Garoppolo for a high draft pick.

That is where the Patriots could come in. Bedard is confident that acquiring Garoppolo is still “far away their plan” and they would likely be willing to give up a second-round pick to bring him back. If Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch feel Bridgewater is an upgrade over Garoppolo or, at the very least, a lateral move, they may be inspired to make a deal.

Lynch recently threw public support behind Garoppolo, but we know how quickly things can change. A recent report claimed the 49ers would only consider trading Garoppolo for one specific quarterback, but the Bridgewater rumors may be a sign that the situation is not that simple.

Tom Herman lands job on NFL coaching staff

Tom Herman

Former Texas coach Tom Herman has a new job, and it is one that certainly came out of nowhere.

The Chicago Bears announced Monday that Herman has been hired as an offensive analyst and special projects coach, joining Matt Nagy’s staff for the 2021 season. The Bears offered few details as to what Herman’s job will entail or what departments he may be focusing on.

Herman lands on his feet after four seasons as Texas head coach. He went 32-18 at the school, but was unable to turn the Longhorns into the national title contender they hoped and expected to be. Still, he has a strong track record, having previously gone 22-4 in two years as Houston’s head coach following a stint as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State.

Herman has never worked at the NFL level, so this should be an interesting transition. He’ll be tasked with helping to improve an offense that had some really baffling issues in 2020.

JJ Watt went to great lengths to break his own free agency news

JJ Watt

J.J. Watt was the first person to break the news on Monday that J.J. Watt has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, and J.J. Watt went to great lengths to make sure he wasn’t scooped on the story.

Watt shared a clever post on social media in which he was wearing a Cardinals shirt.

Some wondered if Watt had the Cardinals shirt waiting and had known for a while he was signing with Arizona. That was apparently not the case.

Watt told reporters on Tuesday that he ordered shirts from about four or five different teams so he would be prepared for the announcement. He had the shirts shipped to a friend’s house because he was afraid the delivery person might piece things together.

Watt’s decision came as a shock to most, as the Cardinals were not believed to be a legitimate contender to sign him. We think we have a pretty good idea of why he chose them.

Jay Cutler would only take picture with fan under funny condition

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler had a humorous encounter with a fan on Sunday.

Cutler was in Vail, Colo. and hanging out outside a bar in the skiing village. A fan apparently wanted a photo with Cutler, but the former quarterback said the fan could only have the picture if he chugged a pitcher of beer.

That led to this video:

Nice work by the fan.

Everyone in the video was wearing skiing gear, suggesting they were having some fun on the slopes during the day.

Cutler is turning 38 in a few months and last played in the NFL for the Dolphins in 2017. He actually came out of retirement to play for them after Ryan Tannehill suffered a serious knee injury.

Cutler and Kristin Cavallari announced last year they were getting a divorce, which led to some nasty headlines.

NFL head coach predicts ‘massacre’ in upcoming player cuts

Roger Goodell

As the NFL zeroes in on a salary cap figure for 2021, the consequences could be stark for a lot of veteran players around the league.

The cap, which was $198.2 million in 2020, is expected to fall significantly in 2021 due to reduced league revenues. The 2021 number has not been finalized, but one NFL GM told Matt Verderame of Fansided that the number is expected to come in between $180 million and $183 million.

In other words, some NFL teams will expect to have to reduce payroll, and that is likely to lead to a lot of veterans getting cut. One head coach predicted a “massacre” starting next week ahead of free agency.

It’s clear that plenty of quality veterans will be available by March 17, when free agency opens. That might be good news for contenders, and it could also lead to some teams aggressively adding veteran talent to improve quickly. That’s why some within the league believe there could be a significant consequence while the salary cap is reduced.

Josh McCown likely to join Texans coaching staff after release?

Josh McCown

The Houston Texans released quarterback Josh McCown on Monday. That will likely spell the end of his NFL career, but could mark the start of his coaching journey.

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk suggests that McCown could take on an assistant coaching role with Houston in 2021. The quarterback has long been viewed as a future NFL coach, having been praised for his mentoring skills and experience.

Smith adds that McCown is “likely to have some role with the team,” even if it is not as a full-time coach. He notes that the team facility is only about 90 minutes from the McCown family home, making it plausible that McCown could stay around the team even without a full-time role.

The Texans liked McCown enough to let him interview for their head coaching job. In fact, there was some chatter that the eventual hire is just keeping the seat warm for the former quarterback. If he joins the staff, especially in a full-time role, those rumors will intensify.

Ricky Williams reveals crazy reason he started smoking heavily

Ricky Williams

Marijuana has been a huge part of Ricky Williams’ life for several years now, and the former running back has always been very open about that. He was suspended multiple times during his NFL career for violating the NFL’s drug policy, but he was able to stay out of trouble at the University of Texas. That’s probably because it wasn’t until his senior year that a major life event got him big into smoking.

During an appearance on “Club Shay Shay” with Shannon Sharpe on Tuesday, Williams revealed that he became a big smoker his senior year at Texas. He got more into it after learning that his girlfriend had been cheating on him with one of his teammates.

“That’s how it started. I was like obsessing about this and my friend was like, ‘Dude, you gotta chill,'” Williams recalled. “He brought it out and was like, ‘You gotta hit this.’ And I did and it was the first time where I wasn’t obsessed and I wasn’t thinking about it. I could sleep and relax. From that moment I was like, ‘OK, this could be helpful for me.'”

Williams doesn’t feel too badly about the cheating now, because his ex-girlfriend and former teammate have since gotten married. You can see the entire clip of him talking about the situation below:

Williams won the Heisman Trophy at Texas and led the NFL in rushing with 1,853 yards in 2002. He’s spoken in the past about the ways in which he feels weed has negatively impacted him, some of which you can read about here.

A lot people assume Williams was a stoner all through college, so they’ll be surprised to hear relationship troubles are what really made him commit to the green.

5 NFL players who could be cut before free agency

Alex Smith

The start of the new league year, which is ushered in with the beginning of free agency, is now less than one month away. Leading up to that time, NFL teams will continue shuffling their rosters. Teams are hoping to not only clear salary cap space for players they covet, but also to clear roster space.

That means many players will be cut in the coming weeks, and you can bank on a few of them being big names. We’ve already seen one big name make that list.

Here’s a look at five more players who could be sent out to pasture leading up to free agency.

(more…)

Bills propose huge change to NFL coach hiring process

Buffalo Bills

The NFL head coach hiring process might look a lot different in the future if the Buffalo Bills get their way.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Bills have submitted a rules proposal that would prevent teams from interviewing candidates for front office or coaching positions until after the conference championships are played. Teams would not be allowed to hire candidates for these positions until after the Super Bowl.

This would be a huge change. Presently, teams can interview candidates employed by other organizations during the playoffs, while unemployed candidates or college coaches can speak to teams without any restrictions.

There have been questions in the past over whether it’s distracting for coordinators employed by playoff teams to also go through the interview process during the playoffs. The Bills dealt with that to some degree this year, which may have impacted their thinking.

It’s also not clear whether this is something owners are eager to consider. If they do, though, the hiring process is going to radically change in the next few years.