The Texans and defensive end J.J. Watt have agreed to part ways. Watt posted a video on his Twitter that confirmed he approached the Texans to let him out of his contract and make him a free agent. Now, the three-time defensive player of the year is free to sign wherever he pleases after spending his entire 10-year career in Houston.
Here are some of the many possible landing spots for J.J. Watt.
Green Bay Packers
Watt not only grew up in Wisconsin, but played for the University of Wisconsin in college. It makes sense, then, that the former Badger was a Green Bay Packers fan in his early years.
That alone may be enough of a reason for Watt to start the twilight of his career in green and gold. The draw of returning home to a state where he is already beloved will be hard to overcome. Add that to being able to his childhood-favorite team and it doubles the enticement.
The best reason for Watt to return to Wisconsin, though, is the fact that the Packers are ready to win right now. Green Bay has been in the NFC Championship Game two years in a row, but has not been able to take the next step. The middle of their defensive line is fine, but more pressure off of the edge is always welcome.
Watt is one of the most prolific pass rushers in recent memory and playing for a title could give him the shot in the arm he needs to return to DPOY form. Simply put, Watt needs them and they need him if both parties want to play in the Super Bowl.
If he wants to go down in the history books as a world champion, there may be no better place than Green Bay.
Home does not play such a big role in this potential landing spot, but family sure does.
Both of J.J.’s little brothers, T.J. and Derek, play for the Steelers. T.J. is an edge rusher like him, and Derek is listed as a fullback, but can have multiple points of impact on the field. This may be their one and only chance to play as a family on the same team.
The Steelers defense is already stout, especially at getting to the quarterback. If J.J. lines up on the opposite side of the line as his brother, then there really will not be much to say, other than, “look out.” Plus it works out for both parties, because why would Pittsburgh not add a two-time sack leader to the defense that led the league in sacks.
It is a nice idea, all three brothers playing together, but the Steelers are in absolute cap hell. It gets even worse if Ben Roethlisberger decides to come back without restructuring his deal. Surely he would give the team a break on salary to play with his little brothers, but a player like Watt deserves more than the veteran’s minimum for what he has left to give.
J.J. knows that; the only question is how much does the money matter for an opportunity like this?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It has already been established that Watt can walk into any front office in the league and secure a starting spot if the price is right. So why would he not walk into the front office of the reigning Super Bowl champions?
The Bucs have a little restructuring to do. Some players have agreed to restructure their deals to make another run at the Super Bowl, but they will inevitably end up losing some players. Chris Godwin, Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett are all free agents and if Tampa wants to add more veterans in free agency, they may lose one or two of them.
Enter J.J. Watt. Shedding one of their stalwart linebackers will hurt, but that is a wound easily soothed by the presence of a five-time Pro Bowler. He may not even have to take that much of a pay cut, considering the Buccaneers hover around seventh in total cap space in 2021.
Not to be overlooked is the “LeBron James effect” for which Tom Brady is starting to get a reputation in Florida. He has been able to lure big names like Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski to Tampa; two players who thought their days in the NFL may be over for good.
It is not home and it is not family, but Tampa Bay does have a shiny new Lombardi Trophy in the case.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams never seem to have any picks and they never seem to have any cap room, yet they keep piling on new players and free agent signings.
Los Angeles has taken the position that they will sell out to win, no matter what it costs the future or what it costs the owner. Their latest move, which brought Matthew Stafford into the fold, was the second time in two years they have traded away two first round picks (Jalen Ramsey).
Many NFL fans would pay good money to sit in on the aggressive pitch to Watt that Sean McVay is surely already preparing. Their defensive line is the best in the league, but the Rams are not satisfied with that and would add Watt in a heartbeat the second they could.
It is the longest shot of any of the teams listed here, but never count out the aggressiveness of the Rams front office. Who knows, he may even get a similar payday in Los Angeles.
Featured Image courtesy of Scott Halleran/Getty Images
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