Four AFC Teams Should Make a Push to Acquire J.J. Watt
By: Menachem Ickovitz (Twitter: @menudo_man)
The Houston Texans had a rough 2020 season. Their 4 -12 record lead to head coach Bill O’Brien getting fired midseason and as they are over $17 million over the cap, there have been rumblings that J.J. Watt and his hefty paycheck may get traded. Texans Daily reported that Watt is likely to be traded by the Houston Texans.
For any team looking to acquire him, while Watt’s cap number is high, he is in the final year of his contract, so it would come off the books by the beginning of 2022. Watt, when healthy, has shown to be a game changer and as he is a great person within a community, he is the type of player any team would be happy to have.
Additionally, the Texans have very few draft picks as of now, so trading Watt could help them recoup some of the picks they’ve traded away. With all that being said, here are five teams that could make sense for Watt to be traded to.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have over $50 million in cap space so going after Watt is very doable for them. Often trades happen because of previous relationships among the team’s general managers, the Texans have a new GM in Nick Caserio who had been a member of the Patriots’ front office since the early 2000s.
On the field, the Patriots are looking to retool and adding Watt would help their defense which was middle of the pack. Furthermore, the Patriots had only 24 sacks last season and adding Watt would help.
While their bigger concern is at quarterback, adding Watt could definitely help the Patriots return to the playoffs.
You’re looking at this and thinking, “What is this guy thinking, putting the Lions as one of the teams that would go after J.J. Watt?” Yes this is a long-shot, but it definitely could make some sense as the Texans have discussed not only trading Watt but trading QB Deshaun Watson as well. If you take their combined cap number it adds up to a drop more than current Lions QB Matt Stafford, who is currently on the trade block.
If the Lions and Texans can work out a deal where Watt & Stafford change teams, along with some draft picks going to Houston, it could make a lot of sense. Then the Texans can turn around and trade Watson for more draft capital.
New Lions defensive line coach Giff Smith was most recently a member of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers organization and had some amazing defensive ends there in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. If the Lions can make the move for Watt, Smith will have a veteran player to build the line around.
The Browns are in need of some help on defense and with Olivier Vernon coming off an injury plus with his contract expiring, acquiring Watt would bring a top-line pass rusher to play opposite of Myles Garrett. Also, Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods typically has multiple pass rushers for his defense to be fully potent and we saw in the playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs how much the 2nd pass rusher was missing without Vernon out there.
In terms of cap space, the Browns are in a good place right now with the cap as they are close to $20 million under the cap. Adding Watt for the final year of his contract would not do too much to harm their cap position.
New York Jets
The New York Jets have a new coach in Robert Saleh, who is trying to bring a new level of toughness to the team and Watt could prove to be a great addition to the team. The Jets also have the draft picks and cap space to make this deal work.
The Jets’ defense had some good moments in 2020 and they were especially productive in their two wins against the Los Angeles Rams and the Cleveland Browns. They also played well against the Las Vegas Raiders, until the last play when they lost the game.
By adding Watt, the Jets can raise the level of the entire squad and give Saleh what he had in San Francisco, top of the draft defensive linemen.
There’s also another reason why the Jets would look into doing this trade. There is a long history of New York sports teams trying to be featured on the back page of the New York Post and the New York Daily News for doing something good. If the Jets can trade for Watt, they will be featured throughout the season.
On the one hand, trading Watt to the Jaguars makes perfect sense. On the other hand, it seemingly will never happen.
The reasons why it makes sense include the Jaguars looking for an identity, having the most cap space and plenty of draft picks over the next few drafts to get this done. The Jaguars have the first pick in the NFL Draft and are expected to take QB Trevor Lawrence from Clemson.
Rookie quarterbacks need good defenses. Also, rookie quarterbacks allow the team to spend their money on players to fit around the quarterback. Adding Watt and his large contract will not hurt the Jaguars and in fact will be very beneficial.
The reason why this suggestion is a little farfetched is because the Texans and Jaguars both play in the AFC South. It is very rare for teams to trade with division rivals, but with the large amount of picks and cap space, if it were to happen, here are the circumstances where it could get done.
As of yet J.J. Watt has not requested a trade, but it would make sense for the Texans to look into it. While some of the suggestions above are more viable than others, dealing with the cap and trying to acquire some draft picks will be the top priority for new Texans GM Nick Caserio and dealing Watt is an easy way to take care of it all.