Adding J.J. Watt would make the Packers pass rush elite, but would they be good enough to win the NFC?
Green Bay finished 11th in sacks per game in 2020 with 2.6. It was a steady rate, but not exactly enough to impose fear upon opposing quarterbacks. It’s safe to assume adding J.J. Watt would change that, as he’s one of the best pass rushers of the last decade. If Watt came at a discounted price thanks to his Wisconsin ties, it would help matters as well, allowing the Packers to address some of their other, more pressing needs.
All of that sounds ideal to Packers fans, but it’s a pipe dream. Watt’s interest in the Browns signals that he’s not willing to punt on money. And his interest in the Steelers suggests he might have a better option should he want to take a discount — why go home when you can bring home to you?
But, in this scenario, let’s say Watt does sign in Green Bay. Are they immediately NFC favorites?
As talented as Watt is, he alone cannot make the Packers standalone favorites in the NFC
The Packers have plenty of needs this offseason — needs they won’t be able to fill if they sign Watt to anything resembling a lucrative contract. Green Bay must replace Kevin King and enhance the secondary. They’re due to lose Aaron Jones. And they owe Aaron Rodgers another weapon in the passing game next to Davante Adams. That’s just part one of the laundry list.
Watt would give Green Bay a threat other than Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to rush the quarterback, something they were lacking against Tom Brady and the Bucs. But this is where the Packers are shortsighted. Rather than merely focusing on their NFC Championship game defeat, they must look at the roster as a whole.
Last offseason, the Packers witnessed the 49ers rushing attack in their NFC Championship defeat and deemed they needed a similar setup, drafting AJ Dillon in the second round last year to pair with Jamaal Williams and Jones. Yet, Rodgers is their proven leader and still managed an MVP season without a legitimate No. 2 target. Imitation is the ultimate sign of flattery, but in football it’s called falling behind.
The Packers don’t need Watt to become NFC favorites. That’s the good news. However, if their only answer is to bring him home to Wisconsin, and make few other worthwhile additions, then Brian Gutekunst will fall short again.