Where Will J.J. Watt Land in NFL After Release From Houston Texans?

With more than $100 million in the bank, Watt may prioritize a shot at a Super Bowl over a big payday

Potential Landing Spots for J.J. Watt After Release From Texans
Former Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a free agent.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

In a move that was a long time coming, J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans agreed to part ways and the star defensive end has already been released.

“I have sat down with the McNair family and I have asked them for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time,” Watt said in a video posted to Twitter. “I came here 10 years ago as a kid from Wisconsin who’d never really been to Texas before. 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 … I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity, and I’ve been working extremely hard.”

So where will that next opportunity be?

There’s no way to know for sure at this point but it’d stand to reason that 31-year-old Watt, who has earned more $100 million in salary alone and has inked numerous endorsement deals during his 10 years in the NFL, would prioritize a shot at a Super Bowl over a big payday at this point in his career.

If that is the case, Watt’s top two choices would probably be the Packers or the Buccaneers.

Tom Brady was good but Tampa Bay’s defensive front was probably the biggest reason Tampa Bay was able to dominate the Super Bowl against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. The Bucs are hoping to retain as many of their players from last season as possible in order to make a run at another title, but if Watt is willing to come in on the cheap Tampa would probably love to add another productive piece who can influence a game without playing on every snap.

Green Bay, the team Tampa beat to advance to Super Bowl LV, also makes a lot of sense as a landing spot as Watt grew up in Wisconsin and played college football at the University of Wisconsin. The Packers would also likely have interest in a player with Watt’s skill set as the team attempted to get better up front at the trade deadline by acquiring interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson from the New York Giants. It didn’t work and now the Packers would just have to pay Watt, not trade assets, to shore up their defensive line.

While probably not the clear-cut contender that both Green Bay and Tampa Bay will be next season, the Steelers could also be a team Watt would like to play for as his younger brother T.J. is a star pass rusher for Pittsburgh. Seeing the Watt brothers lined up on opposite sides of the formation with Bud Dupree ready to rush up the middle would not be a sight that many quarterbacks who enjoy being upright would welcome.

If there is mutual interest between Watt and any of the franchises mentioned above and the financials match up, this is a situation that could resolve itself rather quickly as the defensive star is a vested veteran and not subject to waivers so he can sign with a team immediately instead of having to wait until the 2021 league year begins on March 17.

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