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The market for J.J. Watt shows bargains might not be as plentiful as fans hope

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The impacts of the COVID pandemic on daily life are seen everywhere everyday across the glove. With NFL free agency set to open in less than three weeks, many fans had hoped that the decreased salary cap would lead to plentiful bargains with veterans across the league taking inexpensive one or two year deals while looking to hit free agency again next season. However, at least according to one report, the market for the bigger names appears to be holding steady at a high level.

For Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is, of course, well known and a five time All Pro, however, his career has been beset by injuries and he has appeared in just 48 of 80 regular season games over the past five seasons. In addition, over the past five seasons Watt has posted just 26.5 sacks and 73 quarterback hits. Here is how a handful of Seattle Seahawks players who were on the roster in 2020 measure up in those same categories:

  • J.J. Watt: 26.5 sacks, 73 quarterback hits
  • Carlos Dunlap: 38.5 sacks, 107 quarterback hits
  • Jarran Reed: 22.0 sacks, 58 quarterback hits
  • Bruce Irvin: 30.0 sacks, 69 quarterback hits
  • Benson Mayowa: 24 sacks, 44 quarterback hits

So, as with seemingly every offseason, free agency for the Seattle Seahawks will likely be more of an exercise in patience and bargain shopping for players who could create an outsized impact at a reduced cost relative to their name recognition. It’s no secret that this has largely been the strategy for Pete Carroll and John Schneider in recent seasons, after watching Zach Miller and Sidney Rice retire due to injuries before reaching age 30 after getting big contracts from the Hawks in 2011.

In short, there will be bargains to be found in free agency, but it appears as though as with most offseasons, the true bargains won’t be known for several months.