Things are taking shape for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt, who got his release from the Houston Texans a few weeks ago. It doesn’t sound like a signing is imminent, but we’re starting to get some details on what it may look like.
On Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton reported that one of the most popular destinations for Watt—the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that features his two brothers—is out. He added that the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, and Tennessee Titans are the leading options, but other teams including the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders remain involved.
“Nothing is imminent with free agent J.J. Watt, who is in the process of narrowing his options for a new team, I’m told,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported, after Clayton’s report made waves. “But he is making progress in that area. Plenty of teams have gotten involved.”
Now, we have an idea of what a contract for Watt may look like. ESPN’s Dianna Russini says that the best offer that the defensive end has received is worth 15-16 million per year. She did not disclose how many years that teams are offering the oft-injured pass rusher.
JJ Watt has received several offers from teams. The best offer he has received right now is between 15-16 million per year, per sources.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) February 25, 2021
That is right in the range of the annual value of Watt’s last Texans deal. He signed a six-year, $100 million deal that was set to have him hit free agency in 2022. The Texans released him from his contract for the final year, in which he was set to make $17.5 million.
The 2020 season was just the second since 2015 in which J.J. Watt was able to play all 16 games, which was a good sign. He finished with 52 tackles (14 for loss) and five sacks, the lowest he’s had in a full season. The Texans had a skeleton crew of a defense, of course, which made life harder for him.
He should still be a major asset for whichever team lands him. Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is a future Hall of Famer, and one of the best players the league has seen in recent memory.