TEMPE, Ariz. – About an hour and a half later JJ Watt brought the news on Twitter, which he signs with the Cardinals of Arizona, defensive linemate Jordan Phillips tweeted the question everyone is asking.
“Who are you going to double now, lol” he posted with a couple of laughing emojis, followed by a skull emoji.
In other words, choose your poison. It’s a valid question: watts or Chandler Jones?
The Cardinals can now boast one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league by pairing Watts who agreed to a two-year contract reportedly worth $ 31 million with a guarantee of $ 23 million on Monday with Jones.
Who are you going to double now lol 😂😂😂💀
– Jordan Phillips (@ bigj9797) March 1, 2021
Watt was one of the best pass rushers since joining the league in 2011 with 101 career sacks. Jones has led the NFL with 97 sacks since 2012 when he was drafted in the first round. Who was second during that time? Watt with 95.5.
The Cardinals’ lightning rate for the past three seasons was 38%, making it the second highest in the NFL. Having all-pros on both sides of the line pays off when offensive lines start duplicating one or the other team. Last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Watt was double edge rusher 30% of the time, most of the time in the NFL. By comparison, Jones doubled 16% of the time as an edge rusher in 2019, the last full season he played.
As of 2017, Watt has averaged 3.16 pressures per game, the fifth most in the league, while Jones ranked seventh at 3.09 per game among players who played at least 40 games.
Last season, Watt had a Pass Rush win rate of 20.4. In 2019, Jones’ last full season, was his 17.8. Watt’s rate rose to 22.9% last season when he played the nine technique, which is aimed at the outside shoulder of a narrow end.
Now they are teammates. At least for now.
Jones is entering the final year of his contract and is set to rise the Cardinals with a cap hit of $ 20.8 million in 2021. Although Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said earlier this month he would “reject” the idea of cutting Jones down to save that cap space, a lower salary cap across the league could force teams into decisions they may do not want to meet.
If the Cardinals do not want to part with Jones, they face this decision: either keep him at his current limit or find a way to reduce it, possibly through a contract reorganization.
According to these social media posts, Jones’ recovery from a biceps injury in Week 5 appears to be on the right track. He posted a video on his Instagram stories of doing a backflip from a boat in Hawaii this past weekend.
And on Monday Jones shared in a conversation He had spoken to Watts last month about joining forces.
Chandler Jones posted this February 16 conversation with JJ Watt on his Instagram. Looks like Jones is cooking. pic.twitter.com/4JzwL7arr8
– Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) March 1, 2021
Having two of the best pass rushers in the NFL on the field at the same time could give the Cardinals the boost they need to advance from an 8-8 record in 2020 to the playoffs – and possibly well into the postseason.
It will help Watt take on AFC South in 2021, a division he had 48 sacks against – the second most popular sack for a player against a single division since 2002, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
If Watt can continue this pace and Jones can return to be the 19-sack guy he was in 2019, opposing offensive lines could have some troubled nights ahead of them.