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Football Outsiders wonders about the value of the Arizona Cardinals contracts for J.J. Watt and A.J. Green

NFL: Player Headshots 2020 Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

When the Arizona Cardinals signed J.J. Watt in February it set off a firestorm of reactions.

Was this about the money, does Watt believe in the direction of the Cardinals, is it a combination of the two?

Then in free agency the Cardinals brought in another veteran looking for a chance to finally get a ring in A.J. Green.

It was a crazy investment from the Cardinals and Football Outsiders has some strong opinions on the contracts.

Let’s take a look.

J.J. Watt (DL)

  • Age: 32 years old
  • Contract: 2 year, $28 million ($14 million per year), $20 million guaranteed
  • PAYME: $7,660,000
  • Value: -$6,340,000

Here is what FO had to say:

No one was ever going to get J.J. Watt at a bargain, of course—there was a multi-team bidding war for his services. Had Watt’s last few seasons been akin to his early 2010s run, when he was arguably the best defensive player in football, his PAYME would come out to $19.3 million, even in his 30s. If he had matched his 2018 level of performance the last three years, it’d be $17.2 million. The Cardinals are gambling that Watt will return to being a double-digit-sack player, at which point his deal will be a massive bargain. With Watt’s injury history, it is a gamble, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable one.

So, Watt’s value is off but it is a worthwhile gamble according to FO.

They don’t think the same about Green’s contract.

A.J. Green (WR)

  • Age: 33 years old
  • Contract: 1 year, $6 million ($6 million per year), $6 million guaranteed
  • PAYME: $2,190,000
  • Value: -$3,810,000

I’d say the worst contract on this list belongs to A.J. Green. His PAYME of $2.2 million is still too high, subjectively—his 2018 season is basically holding his value above zilch single-handedly. Green had a negative DVOA in 2017, before missing a year and half due to injury. He was the worst receiver in football in 2020 in both DYAR and DVOA; he simply could not separate from anyone anymore. And he’s turning 33 in July. Over the past three years, only six receivers age 33 or older have even qualified for our main tables, and just one (2019 Julian Edelman) had the top-40 season that would justify Green’s contract. Paying $6 million to see if 2020 was a fluke—and 2017, for that matter—is not the sort of gamble I would take.

So, the Cardinals get value in James Conner as we discussed earlier, they have potential value in Watt, but the Green contract seems to be, at least in their eyes, a mistake.

What do you think?