The Browns now seem to have an option to put one of the others on Garrett’s side to bolster their defenses after last year’s breakout playoff season.
free agency is wild.
– JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 17, 2021
That shouldn’t come as a surprise as the teams win the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, recently sacked by the Texans.
Watt, who will be 32 on March 22, is no longer quite the pass rusher he last won in 2015. But he’s still disruptive and could thrive with a better cast than Houston.
Watt has several interesting options. The Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans are among those who are said to be vying for his services. All three teams will have Super Bowl ambitions in 2021. Other competitors will also take their places. But the budding Browns also have a lot to offer – especially the end of all those permanent double teams.
In 2020 Watt met a doubles team with a league high in 30.1% of the cases. Even so, he still proved to be a differentiator. Watt finished with just five sacks, a career low in a 16-game season. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he finished seventh in the NFL with 13 disrupted dropbacks (sack, interception, or tipped or defended pass), including a 19-yard pick-six on Thanksgiving in Houston Detroit Lions. Additionally, he was one of only seven defenders to end with a run stop and pass rush win rate over 20% last year.
Last season, Cleveland’s Offensive ranked sixth in terms of efficiency after a high-performance running game and a resurrecting campaign from Quarterback Baker Mayfield. But the Browns’ defenses fought at times, even when Garrett was destroying offenses up front. Charging doesn’t get any easier with QBs Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson Stand in the way in the AFC.
Watt would give the Browns the veteran presence they need to take one more step forward defensively as they continue to build a potential Super Bowl contender. And with one of the leading pass-rushers in the game on the other hand, Cleveland would give Watt the opportunity to fight back one-on-one blocking schemes.
Before Garrett faced COVID-19 in the week after Watt’s Texans in mid-November, he played just like any other defender in the league. He led the NFL with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Despite having faced regular doubles as well, Garrett boasted a 27.6% win rate that was only surpassed by Watt’s brother. Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker T.J. watt.
After being cleared for return on Week 13, Garrett battled the aftermath of COVID-19 for the remainder of the season, which he admitted continued to hamper his breathing. Despite encountering doubles 25.8% of the time – the third highest in the league – Garrett still had a Pass Rush win rate of 26.5%, followed by T.J. Watt and Buffalo Jerry Hughes.
“He’s a hell of a player,” said J.J. Watt told reporters when asked if Garrett would go into their game in week 10. “He’s got speed. He’s got speed and strength. He’s got all the tools you need and he’s obviously playing at an extremely high level.”
Watt would thrive with such a player who would draw so much attention from opposing defenses. Garrett would have a lot to gain too.
And the Browns would be on their way to launch a rush to pass championship calibers.