In an unexpected yet not-so-surprising move, defensive end JJ Watt has announced his release from the Houston Texans. So, what happens now for Watt?
This departure comes after the Texans’ tumultuous season, starting with the bewildering Deandre Hopkins trade, to a 4-12 record, to the firing of Bill O’Brien as a result, and now with tensions of Deshaun Watson leaving as well.
Over the last 12 months, Houston has lost some serious star power:
⭐️ DeAndre Hopkins
⭐️ James Harden
⭐️ Russell Westbrook
⭐️ George Springer
⭐️ J.J. Watt pic.twitter.com/BL627zChVf
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 12, 2021
But, what’s next? Watt wants rings. There’s no denying that. He’s 31 years old and probably has another 4-5 good years left, and he can’t risk joining a growing team. This rules out the Jaguars with a potential draft pick in Trevor Lawrence, or the Cardinals with an offense that still needs figuring out.
Where could he go? Let’s round up some of the most feasible options.
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JJ Watt Free Agency Destinations:
The Bills are a top-5 team in the league already. Josh Allen’s stellar performance last season is only a hint at the MVPesque quarterback he is. With Allen as quarterback, and with Stefan Diggs, Cole Beasley and Devin Singletary, they’ve got a thunderous offense – both passing and rushing.
Even more striking than the Bills’ offense is their up-and-coming defense. They ranked 15th last season, but this was amidst injuries of their starters – linebackers Matt Milano and Tyrel Dodson, and cornerbacks Josh Norman and Levi Wallace.
The pass coverage still put up respectable numbers this season, tying 11th in the league for interceptions, 6th in yards-per-attempt and fourth for passing touchdowns allowed.
However, contract expiry looks to be an issue with the Bills. Josh Norman is a definite write off as his 2020 season was more of a “prove it,” and he simply did not prove. Levi Wallace will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and Matt Milano will become unrestricted.
Milano is crucial to the Bills’ pass rush, and without him, the Bills could be severely affected. The Bills surrendered two 200-yard rushing games, and allowed 100-yard rushing games on more than four occasions. Sean McDermott has some work to do with his defensive line this offseason, and there’s no two ways about this.
What does this mean in the context of a JJ Watt signing? Well, to put it simply, it makes sense theoretically but there could be some logistical hiccups. Inadequate salary cap for the Bills organization, a struggling defensive line that Watt will be expected to fix, and experienced players leaving the team.
If JJ Watt does sign with the Bills, they’ll propel themselves to a top-3 team but whether it’ll be championship worthy cannot be ascertained.
We all say JJ’s campaign for his younger brother TJ Watt winning DPOY over Aaron Donald. So, why not simply join him at the Steelers defensive line?
Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league, not to mention one of the best pass-rushing units. They’re at the top of the league in every major statistic: pressure rate of 33.8%, sack rate of 9.6% and QB hits at 136. They allowed 83/222 3rd down conversions, 5/20 4th down conversions, and a 4.3 average rushing yards through the season.
A TJ and JJ Watt duo is terrifying for any quarterback and their offensive line, and given the salary space with the Steelers’ loss of Bud Dupree, this could be a very viable option.
All of this is only in reference to the Steelers defense. Their offense is not to be taken lightly either.
Agreed, the Steelers offense was something of a joke this 2020 season. With their Tik Toks and trash talk, the Steelers reputation took a solid hit. But Chase Claypool isn’t a receiver to be taken lightly, and nor is Big Ben as QB.
Even with the impending free agency of Juju Smith-Schuster, the Steelers are definitely a championship team and JJ’s signing could prove this even more.
Green Bay Packers
Well, JJ could just go back to Wisconsin.
Green Bay definitely checks out in terms of Watt’s desire to reach the Super Bowl. Rodgers has another couple good years left in him, similar to Watt, so you can bet on both their desires to win it big next season.
However, one major qualm I have is with Green Bay’s defense. A pressure rate of 21.5% is almost laughable. They allowed 73/185 3rd downs, 14/24 4th downs, and 5300+ offensive yards from their opponents! They rank 13th in total defense and rushing defense, and 15th in passing defense.
Asking JJ Watt to join Green Bay is asking him to help strengthen the defense single-handedly, and whether or not that’s something he wants to do at this point in his career is something to look out for.
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Conclusion as JJ Watt Looks For a Fresh Start
Where could JJ Watt end up is an important question for each teams’ offseason. He could be either an asset or a threat depending on where he signs, and has to be on everyone’s mind for the 2021 season.