Nearly two weeks into this 33-day head start on free agency, J.J. Watt has yet to sign with a new team. No reports have emerged regarding specific offers he has received from the various franchises that have expressed interest.
Although the lack of a specific cap number could be a factor (the expected range has narrowed to $180 million to $182 million, or so), there’s another reason for teams to bide their time a bit. They currently don’t know whether and to what extent other players will be available to be signed, based on veterans who are cut or free agents who don’t get franchise tagged and don’t quickly sign a contract.
The tampering process, untempered by the lack of a Scouting Combine, could provide some clarity. But that applies only to players whose contracts will be expiring. For veterans under contract who are going to be cut, the move could come at any time between now and March 17. So if a team commits to Watt, there’s a chance that some other player in whom the team would have been more interested and/or could have signed for less money will become available.
That’s part of the broader balance that teams need to strike in a year that will feature a reduced salary cap and an increased flood of available players. It will require Watt to continue to be patient, biding his time by sharing scientific facts on social media.