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J.J. Watt-Picks-The-Cardinals Aftermath

Defensive end changes the team on and off the field

The morning after, and it still doesn't feel like something that happened. But J.J. Watt is a Cardinal, and the ripple effects of such a move are titanic. His arrival is going to dominate the news for a while, I'd think, but with a night to sleep on it, some of the thoughts I have about bringing in a potentially team-altering player.

-- First, the news. TMZ tracked down the daughter of Marshall Goldberg, the 1940s Cardinals star and World War II veteran for whom the franchise retired the No. 99 -- which of course is Watt's long-time number. She said she thought Goldberg would be honored for Watt to wear 99. So I would think Watt will wear 99 after all. But we will see.

-- Watt means so much more than just how he can impact a game, and make no mistake, if he is healthy (which is a fair concern given his history) he can still cause a ruckus up and down the defensive line. That's where this starts. But just imagine Watt in the locker room, talking to Zach Allen or Leki Fotu or Rashard Lawrence, or anyone on the defense. (And if Corey Peters is brought back, the leadership level on that side of the ball will be impressive, especially when you also have guys like Jordan Hicks and Budda Baker.)

-- I don't know how this contract is structured yet. I saw a suggestion somewhere on Twitter that perhaps there will be voidable years built in, meaning the Cardinals would be able to lower his cap number now but it'll kick some of the cap pain down the road.

-- That makes some sense, because this is a push-the-chips-into-the-middle-of-the-table move. The organization felt it should have made the playoffs last year and the Cards did not. The postseason is the minimum, I'd think, for 2021. Kyler Murray is on the rookie contract but is eligible for an extension after the season. That window is almost closed.

-- So can the Cards still make a play for Haason Reddick? Patrick Peterson? Even Markus Golden? The first two will be tougher. Reddick is still in line for a big payday and it only takes one team (but imagining Reddick and Jones on the edges and Watt on the line? Sheesh.) Peterson, at this point, is going to be looking for his best deal, I'd think. Golden still has never gotten the payday he had hoped to get. But he loves Arizona, and if Reddick leaves, that leaves a gap he could fill.

-- People that know the game are confident Watt fits in this defensive scheme. And Watt is smart enough to pick a place where he will fit.

-- For our complete breakdown in the hours after the news, check out our latest Cardinals Underground all-Watt, all-the-time podcast episode.

-- There is risk, but there is risk in any move. This is not the signing of Terrell Suggs. Suggs was at the end of his career, which is why the Ravens let him walk. I'm not sure the Texans really wanted to let Watt go, but circumstances dictated it. No one is saying Watt is still going to battle for Defensive Player of the Year, but again, his value on the field and in the locker room is needed by this team. If he plays like he did in 2020, it'll be worth it.

-- That Texans-at-Cardinals game was already interesting because of DeAndre Hopkins, but with Watt too? The question now is whether Watt will be trying to sack his friend Deshaun Watson or if Watson is playing elsewhere.

-- It's been almost a year since the Cardinals made their last mind-bending move and traded for Hopkins. But this move for Watt just feels bigger. Maybe because it came down to Watt picking the Cards outright (and out of nowhere), whereas Hopkins was a trade. Maybe it was the way the Hopkins news slowly leaked out because of the rules of the new league year and pandemic restrictions. Maybe it's because the Hopkins news first broke on the Monday after the country had begun to shut down because of the coronavirus (people were kind of distracted, for good reason.) But yeah, this felt huge.

We'll see what it eventually means. We've got a while to go before we can see on the field.

JJ Watt stands outside Michael Bidwill's plane after coming to Arizona for the first time