Several Teams Listed As Possible Destinations For J.J. Watt
By Jason Hall
February 12, 2021
J.J. Watt's legendary career with the Houston Texans came to an end on Friday (February 12.)
The former three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was granted his release by the Texans, which he confirmed in a video addressing the Houston fans on his Twitter account.
Watt spent his entire 10-year NFL career with the Texans after being selected No. 11 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“I came here 10 years ago as a kid from Wisconsin, who’d never really been to Texas before,” Watt said in his Twitter video. “And now I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it. The way that you guys have treated me, besides draft night. I mean, you guys booed me on draft night. But every day after that, you treated me like family. And I truly feel like you’re my family.”
Several teams have already been reported as possible destinations for Watt, who won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and was the only player since 1982 to record multiple seasons with 20 or more sacks during an incredible stretch from 2012 and 2015.
The Steelers are the obvious choice given both of Watt's younger brothers -- outside linebacker T.J. Watt and fullback Derek Watt -- are already on the team, with T.J. having already seemingly recruited his older brother to join them shortly after his release on Friday.
Additionally, the Steelers may need to fill a vacancy if pass rusher Bud Dupree and defensive end Tyson Alualu, both of whom will be free agents this offseason, sign elsewhere.
The Bucs are less than a week removed from winning Super Bowl LV and could make room for Watt on a loaded defense that already includes linebackers Devin White, Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett, as well as Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end William Gholston and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches.
Watt acknowledged his love for Texas during his Twitter video on Friday and could be on the Cowboys' radar. Dallas' pass rush recorded only 31 total sacks, which was tied for 20th among NFL teams, and the franchise has been known to make big offseason moves throughout owner Jerry Jones' tenure.
Green Bay also provides familiarity to Watt, a former University of Wisconsin standout and native of the Badger State. The Packers have talent on defense, as well as room to improve their pass rush and the 31-year-old could be a realistic target if several cuts are made to free up cap space.
Baltimore edged out New England as the final team mentioned in CBS Sports' top-5 given Watt would be able to face his brothers twice in annual AFC North matchups, as well as the Ravens making the playoffs for the third consecutive year, while the Patriots had uncharacteristic struggles amid the first season of the post-Tom Brady era.
Head coach John Harbaugh has had success with acquiring veteran players throughout his tenure and Watt could boost a Ravens defense that ranked just outside the top 10 in sacks in 2020, joining a defensive line that already has Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, as well as Yannick Ngakoue should he avoid free agency.
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