Cardinals used Frank Caliendo, Blake Shelton to recruit J.J. Watt

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Money talks louder than anything, so the Cardinals likely didn’t need to “pull out all the stops” to land J.J. Watt. But they did just that to make sure the defensive end felt their love.

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim joined The Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday to discuss landing the big free agent fish.

“Well, as soon as he was officially released, immediately took a look at the film and had not evaluated him in a number of years for obvious reasons,” Keim said. “Threw on the tape. Played over a thousand snaps, all 16 games, and refreshed my memory that he still looks like J.J. Watt, which was exciting. Disruptive. Quickness is still there. Powerful. Has a great repertoire of rush moves. Not only that but did some investigative work and talked to guys like Hop [DeAndre Hopkins] and other people who I knew who used to be with the Texans organization. Obviously Vance Joseph, our defensive coordinator, coached J.J. at one time in Houston. So had some intimate knowledge. The fact that I had that information, along with the tape that I saw, gave me the opportunity to reach out to [agent] R.J. Gonser, and let him know our level of interest.”

The Cardinals seemingly made the highest offer, with Watt signing a two-year, $31 million deal. But the team also made every possible effort to assure Watt would choose Arizona over the Titans, Colts, Browns and whoever else.

Keim recruited comedian Frank Caliendo and American country music singer Blake Shelton to help recruit Watt.

“We made the first offer after a few days,” Keim said. “Again, really when you look at J.J.’s history, the guy’s never been recruited. A walk-on at Central Michigan. The path that he’s taken I think it was probably fairly exciting for him to have a number of teams recruit him. I certainly pulled out all the stops. Guys like our friend Frank Caliendo and Hop and even your new jingle Blake Shelton.”

So what did Caliendo tell Watt?

“He probably impersonated Jon Gruden and said that Steve Keim had interest and made some sort of funny deal,” Keim said. “I don’t know what he did. He was my son’s flag football coach, and a terrible one at that. He lives right around the corner from our facility and is a good friend, as you know, so he’s always willing to help.”

Shelton made a recruiting video.

“He’s not a fair-weather fan. He’s all in,” Keim said.

After Watt announced he was joining the Cardinals, Shelton tweeted, “Congratulations @JJWatt and welcome home to the @AZCardinals my man!!! I will be fielding all inquiries on behalf of Steve Keim. ur first statement is as follows.. ‘Other teams can suck it‘.”

“I’m always trying to keep it at the G-rated level, but Blake sort of has a mind of his own,” Keim said, laughing.

26 responses to “Cardinals used Frank Caliendo, Blake Shelton to recruit J.J. Watt

  1. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that money had more do to with Watt’s decision than Frank Caliendo telling Watt he would look good in cardinal red.

  2. What on Earth are Blake Shelton’s ties to the Cardinals/Arizona? He was born in Oklahoma, moved to Nashville after high school, and never went to college.

  3. I don’t actually think the likes of Frank Caliendo or Blake Shelton would influence JJ Watt in this kind of decision, but if they *did*, I’d have to question what Watt has going on up top these days.

  4. He’s had one great season in the last 5 years.

    He was awful the other 4.

  5. All of that star power and wasted money for a total of five games over the next two years

  6. As a Seahawks fan, this sucks. Big fan of Watt’s, so hate to see him come to our division (unless it was as a Hawk). I didn’t expect him to get such a payday in this downer year for the cap. But if the Cards are willing to eat up cap like that, hey- I’m all for it. Hopefully our new OC can figure out some quick routes for RW to dump off to so he doesn’t get pummeled into oblivion. Would’ve loved to see him in Seattle, but with our cap situation, that was not likely to ever happen.
    Have fun down in AZ, JJ. As long as it’s not to the detriment of the Hawks, I’m rootin’ for you.

  7. Great, you are welcome to him. I’d rather have football players who want to win championships over those that just want the most money!

  8. Why are people so butthurt when a player gets paid? … You should cry about Jerry Jones being the grandfather of the salary cap

  9. Seems like the Cardinals think they just made the biggest offseason move on defense lol. This isn’t 2012 JJ Watt, we can stop talking about this like they just got Reggie White in his prime or something.

  10. Watt should’ve signed with Detroit. Dan Campbell would’ve taught him how to be more forthcoming in a press conference. “The signs pointed to AZ.” Yeah, ri$ht.

  11. I’ve been saying for years bring in Frank Caliendo on Monday Night Football !! The guy is talented, brings in an entirely different perspective and the rating would shoot through the roof.

  12. Ryan Wiuff says:
    March 2, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    What on Earth are Blake Shelton’s ties to the Cardinals/Arizona? He was born in Oklahoma, moved to Nashville after high school, and never went to college.


    He says it’s since he was a kid growing up in Oklahoma. No NFL team in OK, most people are Cowboys fans, but he didn’t feel it or Texas. He always gravitated to AZ, so he became a Cardinals fan. He also notes that he was a big Jake Plummer fan (though that was when he was in his 20s).

  13. Someone above already said it best – the key is whether he can stay healthy. I wish the best for him but his track record as he has gotten older is unfortunately not good. Only time will tell.

  14. Blake….Caliendo……so, that should normally scare off anyone. I think it was all Deandre saying ” Dude, Houston was wack. At least try to finish a career with me here in AZ. WE were the only good players ever there besides Watson”

  15. Doesn’t say much for the football people the Cardinals have in their organization..

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