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John Clayton Says There Are 3 Favorites For J.J. Watt

Houston Texans star JJ Watt during an NFL game against the Raiders.

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans reacts after batting down a pass in the first half against the Oakland Raiders at NRG Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The pursuit of veteran defensive end J.J. Watt is heating up, as suitors are doing their best to lure the three-time Defensive Player of the Year into a new organization. The former Houston Texan was released earlier this month and has now become one of the hottest names on the open market.

.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.

— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021

">NFL reporter John Clayton added to the various reports about Watt, clarifying what he's heard about the frontrunners to land the defensive end. According to Clayton, the 31-year-old is narrowing in on three teams. He named the Tennessee Titans, the Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills as the main competitors to bring the five-time All-Pro on board. As of now, the Las Vegas Raiders remain a "dark horse" to sign Watt.

Each of Clayton's three named organizations find themselves in need of defensive line support, but also are well prepared to make a deep postseason run in 2021. They also largely fit Watt's "criteria" for a new team, making for some interesting hypothetical partnerships.

The Tennessee Titans ranked in the bottom ten in overall defense in 2020, despite going 11-5 and winning the AFC South. Mike Vrabel's club also totaled just 19 sacks last season, which ranked 30th in the league. Watt might not be at the elite level he used to be, but could provide some pass-rush support to a Titans unit in desperate need.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers fell short in the NFC Championship Game for the second year in a row in 2020. However, the 37-year-old, franchise quarterback wasn't to blame. The Packers struggled on defense and the loss contributed to the organization's dismissal of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Watt played his college ball at Wisconsin, leaving many to wonder if Green Bay might attract the former Badger.

Clayton's third named finalist was the Buffalo Bills. The 2020 AFC East champs showed off an electric offense on their run to the conference championship game, but a middling defense. In order to knock off the other loaded competitors in the AFC, the Bills will need to improve their defensive front, which might start with adding Watt.

Watt certainly seems eager to find a new home, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him sign with a new team in the near future.