ESPN’s Barnwell backs paying up for players like J.J. Watt and Tom Brady

Mar 5, 2021, 6:45 AM | Updated: 7:24 am

FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans attempts to tackle Tom Brady #12...

FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 09: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans attempts to tackle Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Compliments and complaints have been flying at the Arizona Cardinals since J.J. Watt announced he was signing with the team as a free agent on a two-year, $31 million deal.

Consider ESPN’s Bill Barnwell as a member of Team Compliment. He joined Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta, analyzing the defenseive lineman and what it means to sign someone to a large contract on the wrong side of 30.

“There are rules that apply to the vast majority of human beings,” Barnwell said.

“Tom Brady is the exception. He is a transcendent first-ballot, Hall of Fame player. With J.J. Watt, I think he is in that class.”

There are some striking similarities with the two players.

Brady is coming off a Super Bowl championship in his first year after joining a new team as one of the biggest free agent acquisitions of all time.

Arizona is hoping Watt, who could easily be considered the biggest free agent acquisition so far this season, can help deliver a Super Bowl championship in a similar fashion.

The potential downside to spending money on one player is teams may have to adjust to a salary cap that is going to be lower than expectations this season.

“You have so many teams who have preparing for years for the cap to be $210 (million) or $215 (million) and instead its going to be between $180 (million) and $185 (million),” Barnwell said.

This could create a situation where teams are forced to cut players who would be starters for financial reasons.

“Maybe one of the few downsides of signing J.J. Watt is this could be a buyers market two weeks from now,” Barnwell said.

With other holes to fill on the roster, Barnwell mentions another option the team could have taken in approaching the offseason.

“You might be able to get two starters on defense, two good starters on defense, for what the Cardinals paid for J.J. Watt. So I don’t fault them for the move in the slightest but that might be the alternative is you could see the market flooded with players in a week or two,” he said.

At the end of the day, Barnwell believes the Cardinals went out of their way to add a difference maker to the defense.

“When you have guys who are otherworldly, first-ballot Hall of Famers, you break the rules,” he said.

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ESPN’s Barnwell backs paying up for players like J.J. Watt and Tom Brady