Packers: There will be no homecoming for J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
J.J. Watt (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The dream of J.J. Watt returning home to Wisconsin and signing with the Green Bay Packers is over.

According to Watt himself on Twitter, his next destination is with the Arizona Cardinals. Instead of playing at Lambeau Field as a Packer, he’ll now be playing for one of the Packers’ 2021 opponents.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watt is signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth $31 million including $23 million guaranteed.

There’s no way the Packers could’ve realistically competed with that contract. Green Bay already needs to clear cap space before the new league year begins later this month. Finding a way to make that contract work on the cap would’ve been a monumental challenge for Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball, and they would’ve needed Watt to accept a much lower offer for it to happen.

While the decision is a shame for Packers fans, it’s an understandable one from Watt’s perspective. He gets $23 million guaranteed over two years while also getting to play for a playoff contender.

The Cardinals have a talented young quarterback and a superstar wide receiver. They also have talent on defense including first-team All-Pro safety Budda Baker. Maybe Watt can be the missing piece to turn Arizona into Super Bowl contenders.

The Watt story is likely to become a common theme for the Packers this offseason. Expect them to show interest in a number of free agents who could help the team, but ultimately fall short due to cap limitations.

Gutekunst will likely need to work on adding talent on short-term, cap-friendly deals. Perhaps the uncertainty of the cap around the league will lead to more players accepting prove-it type deals, and that could certainly help the Packers.

Sadly, we now know that Watt won’t be returning to Wisconsin and helping his home team chase another Super Bowl.