The Houston Texans granted J.J. Watt’s request on Friday and released him. In doing so, they made the 31-year-old one of the hottest available free agents on the market.
After becoming known for being particularly injury-prone in the latter stages of his career, Watt is fresh off just his second 16-game season since 2015. That should be a reassuring sign for any team hoping to add him, since he is still performing at an extremely high level whenever he’s on the field.
This past year Watt finished with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
So what comes next for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year?
According to Ed Werder of ESPN, “approximately a dozen teams have shown interest in JJ Watt since he became an immediate unrestricted free agent.”
Of that group, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills Bills and Tennessee Titans are expected to be the favorites to nab him.
James Harden’s blunt response to how he handled the Rockets situation. https://t.co/LoClCJPHFY
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 13, 2021
“The Steelers make sense, given both of Watt’s brothers, T.J. and Derek, already play in Pittsburgh. The Steelers, though, would have to create cap space to add a third Watt,” wrote Pro Football Talk.
“The Titans’ 19 sacks were the fewest in the NFL last season, and another ex-Texan, Jadeveon Clowney, didn’t work out as expected. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel formerly was Watt’s defensive coordinator in Houston. The Browns could lose Olivier Vernon in free agency and have cap space. The Bills, who reached the AFC Championship Game, could pair Watt with Jerry Hughes and likely improve on the 38 sacks they had in 2020.”
The hits keep coming. https://t.co/tAgVSV1zRh
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 11, 2021
Watt has wanted out of Houston for a while now, so none of this should come as a surprise. It will be interesting to see where he ultimately ends up when it’s all said and done and all the dust has settled.
Given the mess the Texans have on their hands when it comes to Deshaun Watson, ridding themselves of a headache in having to appease Watt makes some sense. Currently there are three ‘sleeper’ candidates for the star quarterback’s services, plus he’s been linked to one mega four-team deal involving Aaron Rodgers.
Fortunately for the Texans, they already have their replacement for Watt in place – so at least that will be one less thing to worry about.