The Texans have officially exercised the 5th-year option on defensive end J.J. Watt for 2015, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deadline to do so was on May 3rd, but Houston decided not to wait.
Yates adds that the Ravens have done the same with cornerback Jimmy Smith and ditto for the Chargers and defensive lineman Corey Liuget. The Jets are believed to have done the same for defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson.
The 6’6″ Watt is coming off of a season in which he registered 65 tackles, 10.5 sacks, seven pass deflections, and four forced fumbles. The season prior to that was the 25-year-old’s monster breakout season – he racked up 69 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 16 pass deflections, and four forced fumbles en route to his first Pro Bowl. Watt has also been tremendously durable over the course of his three year career, playing in all 16 games in each campaign.
We heard in late March that the Ravens would pick up Smith’s fifth-year option, but the Ravens were hoping to work out a long-term deal with him. Smith will earn $6.898MM in 2015, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). His salary is guaranteed only for injury at present. It will become fully guaranteed for skill if he’s on the roster for the first day of the 2015 league year.
Liuget, 24, is coming off of his second consecutive productive season for San Diego, racking up 12.5 sacks between 2012 and ’13. Wilkerson and the Jets have both been open about their desire to work out a new long-term pact but in the interim, the Temple product will have to settle for a $6.97MM salary in 2014.