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Stay Or Walk: Arizona Cardinals Defensive Tackle Gabe Watson

On Thursday we began a new segment, looking over the Cardinals roster for the current players that are set to become free agents on March 5th. We started with linebacker Chike Okeafor, and determined that he will likely walk in free agency. Now we'll move across the defense to nose tackle, as Gabe Watson is set to become a restricted free agent.

Watson was drafted in the fourth round in 2006 to add depth behind Darnell Dockett. He's seen minimal playing time in his four seasons in Arizona, starting 21 games in his first two seasons, but none in the last two. He's spent the majority of his career being shuffled in and out of a situational role, or playing on special teams. Last season Watson injured his knee cap in a freak treadmill accident at the Cardinals training facility. He spent the bulk of that year recovering on the sideline, and played sparingly at the end of the season. This past year, many felt Watson would finally play to his full potential as a result of being healthy, but he ended the year with a mediocre 26 tackles and zero sacks.

Reasons For:

  • Watson is only 26-years old and has a long career ahead of him.
  • He's had the opportunity to learn behind veteran Bryan Robinson, and play alongside Darnell Dockett. The experience gained could help if he saw a full season as a starter.
  • He has the ideal size to fit into Bill Davis' 3-4 scheme. He's big enough to draw double teams, and fill the A and B gap.
  • He will be a restricted free agent, so signing him won't be too difficult as he shouldn't command a large contract.

Reasons Against:

  • In his four seasons, Watson hasn't been able to lock down the starting job at nose tackle. In the last two seasons, he couldn't beat out 35-year old Bryan Robinson.
  • He's struggled to show his true potential. He'll be in his fifth season if the Cardinals re-sign him, and with the possible loss of Robinson, it's becoming imperative that Watson needs to step up is play.
  • He doesn't nececarily excel at one position. Two sacks in four seasons doesn't stand out as a true pass rusher, and he hasn't seen much playing time lately so we'd have to assume his run-defense isn't anything special.

Stay or Walk: Stay

The Cardinals would be too pressed to sign a true nose tackle in one offseason alone. With Robinson possibly gone, Watson would be the main replacement. He's still young and has the physical tools to become a dominant nose tackle - he just needs to apply them to the football field. What are your thoughts on Gabe Watson and should the Cardinals re-sign him?