The new League Year opens on March 17th, signaling the start of free agency.
While other teams fight over Allen Robinson, the Eagles will likely be relegated to spectatorship; their cap space mismanagement, including an NFL-record $33.8 million hit in dead cap to Carson Wentz, rules them out of contention for elite free agents… for now.
Meanwhile, 3x Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt will be available. Watt previously put up Aaron-Donald-tier production but was released by Houston.
His first-ever stint in free agency has already resulted in fantastic Twitter content:
Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 23, 2021
While his AP Bio knowledge turns heads, it’s his two 20.5 sack seasons that make GMs’ mouths water. Rumors abound, linking the Packers, Buccaneers, and Bills to Watt’s camp, while his agent was reported to be in talks with the Titans. Whether he’s reunited with Mike Vrabel (Houston’s defensive coordinator in 2017) or gets to line up next to his brother in Pittsburgh, one thing remains constant: Philadelphia is not on his radar.
And we shouldn’t be. Watt is looking to win a Super Bowl trophy before he retires, and everyone and their mother knows the Eagles won’t be knocking on the door for at least a couple of seasons.
Chris Long said it best: “It’s a burning building in Philly right now.” If Watt wants the Lombardi Trophy, he won’t get it here.
Chris Long on #Eagles fans trying to recruit JJ Watt: “Listen, you're not even in the conversation. It's a burning building in Philly right now… do you think a HOFer is gonna run from one burning building to another? He doesn’t want to be a mentor anymore, he wants to win." pic.twitter.com/5oZxb58oFA
— Eagles Nation (8-7) (@PHLEaglesNation) February 21, 2021
Schematically, it wouldn’t make sense either. Unless Jonathan Gannon changes things dramatically, the Eagles will continue to run a 4-3 defensive scheme, a big departure from Watt’s 3-4 tendencies.
None of this even touches on the financial calculations. Watt will likely command somewhere between $15 and $16 million in salary. For a team that opened $70 million above the cap limit, that math is almost impossible to figure.
Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Zach Ertz, and other veterans could be on their way out to create financial wiggle room.
The release of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery and the impending departure of Malik Jackson will help formidably, but even assuming Howie works his magic, restructure-and-release will only get you so far.
loathed as a child,
revered in adulthood.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 25, 2021
Would Watt present an enormous upgrade for the Eagles at the defensive end, likely ousting Brandon Graham and lining up beside Fletcher Cox in a daunting pass-rush? Yes.
But can the Eagles land JJ Watt? No.
Worse yet, not only is his playing in Philadelphia an impossibility, a more likely outcome would be joining the Dallas Cowboys. And unlike midday naps, that outcome would be loathed by children and parents alike.
So if you #WantWatt, root against Jerry Jones, not for Jeffrey Lurie.
Featured Image: Eric Christian Smith/AP