The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: J.J. Watt will wind up in the AFC North, one way or another.
Explanation: While a number of Steelers fans would love to see him wind up in Pittsburgh, that’s so unlikely to happen as to be fruitless to even discuss it. The Cleveland Browns, however, are said to be a primary candidate, and it’s not unrealistic to think that the Baltimore Ravens, with both of their pass rushers being free agents, could be in the market as well. Even The Cincinnati Bengals could be in play.
It just makes too much sense for J.J. Watt to go to Cleveland. It’s a good fit for him in that scheme, and on an ascending team with a young franchise quarterback that has a strong offensive line and run game. While the management team is new, they do have the feel of stability, provided that they are able to achieve success.
While there are other candidates out there, the Ravens seem plausible even if their name haven’t been thrown out a lot in connection with him. Both Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are free agents. They also love to get compensatory draft picks. Imagine having Judon sign for $18 million per year somewhere and then pick up Watt as a street free agent with no compensatory penalties.
And being in the AFC North, he would get to play against his brothers twice a year.
Cleveland has to be considered a leading candidate, but they are not the only one, and perhaps Watt would feel better going to an organization with a better track record. The Browns hadn’t been to the postseason in nearly two decades before last month.
If I were given the choice of Cleveland vs the field, I’m taking the field. There are plenty of other places that he can wind up, and he’ll have his pick from a number of attractive candidates, with weeks of being one of the few premium pass rushers on the market, since he can sign now, while others will have to wait until the start of the new league year.