Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: Does NFC West rival’s big addition apply more pressure on Seattle?

Mar 2, 2021, 8:20 AM
Seahawks Pete Carroll Kliff Kingsbury...
Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury's pass rush just got an unexpected boost. (Getty)

It may be the NFL offseason, but Seahawks fans always have their eyes out for news affecting their team.

O’Neil: Ex-Seahawk gets why the Wilson situation is very alarming

Two headlines should interest Seattle fans this week – one is about a major star who unexpectedly landed in the NFC West, while another concerns a player who may have found a new chance outside of Seattle.

Here’s what’s in the news:

The story: J.J. Watt signs with the Arizona Cardinals

The question: How much does this shift the landscape of the NFC West, and will this add further pressure on the Seahawks to bolster the offensive line?

All eyes were on J.J. Watt after news broke in February that the former Defensive Players of the Year had been released from the Houston Texans. It wasn’t just Watt’s Monday morning tweet announcing his new team that surprised NFL fans everywhere, it was also the destination.

Watt, who had been favored to land with either the Cleveland Browns or Buffalo Bills, signed a deal with the Arizona Cardinals. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a two-year contract worth $31 million. It wasn’t a deal anyone saw coming. Even longtime Texans reporter John McClain was “shocked” by the news.

But here Watt is now, in the NFC West, and the Seahawks have yet another star pass rusher to deal with.

The Cardinals lost Chandler Jones (who was plenty happy with the signing of Watt) to injury in October 2020 but still finished with 48 sacks as a team. Haason Reddick, who will be a free agent this spring, was called to step up in Jones’ place and finished the season with a team-leading 12.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, and six forced fumbles. The organization reportedly wants Reddick back in 2021, but the addition of Watt provides relief if Reddick walks. If Reddick re-signs, the Cardinals’ defensive front becomes even deadlier.

In the NFC West landscape, the addition of Watt shouldn’t turn the division on its head. It still looks like a battle between the Seahawks and Rams at the top, though the 49ers (who will field a healthier defense next season) and Cardinals shouldn’t be far behind, pending additional moves. The Cardinals are betting on Watt being more like the player he was in 2018, when he bounced back from two injury-riddled seasons to post 16 sacks across 16 games. He hasn’t returned to that form over the past two seasons, though.

As to whether the addition of Watt adds more pressure on the Seahawks to add protection for Wilson, I’m not sure Wilson could add more pressure than he’s already created by going public with his frustration over sacks. But if there is a trade in Wilson’s future, it won’t be this offseason, which means the Seahawks will need to find a way to replace at least one interior offensive lineman (retiring left guard Mike Iupati). And even if Watt doesn’t help the Cards win the NFC West crown, the addition of another elite defender in Arizona still makes Wilson’s life tougher two times a year.

The story: Ex-Seahawks WR Josh Gordon signs with Fan Controlled Football League

The question: Are Gordon’s chances of returning to Seattle officially at zero?

Former Seahawks wide receiver Josh Gordon will return to a football field, though this time it will be with the Fan Controlled Football League, a startup that plays all of its indoor 7-on-7 games in Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, GA. He’ll play for the Zappers, one of the league’s four teams, joining ex-NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Seahawks fans were surely hoping Gordon would be reinstated once again and permitted to re-join the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he re-signed in 2020.

So, to the question: Is the chance of a Gordon-Seahawks reunion at zero? It certainly feels like it.

Gordon and the Seahawks were close to a reunion last season, though the 29-year-old receiver was ultimately placed back on the Commissioner’s exempt list near the end of the season. Per a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler at the time of the suspension, indications were that could have been Gordon’s last strike.

For fans interested in seeing Gordon on the field, the league streams its games on Twitch.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: Does NFC West rival’s big addition apply more pressure on Seattle?