Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt was mentioned in trade rumors in advance of the November 3 deadline. Though he ended up staying put, he may be playing his last games with the only team he has ever known. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Watt is a virtual lock to be dealt this offseason.
Watt, 31, recently indicated that he does not want to be part of a rebuild, and the 1-6 Texans, who will be looking for a new GM and new head coach at season’s end, appear to be heading in that direction. Plus, Houston is without a first- or second-round selection in 2021, and while Watt is unlikely to fetch a draft pick that high, the club is desperate for whatever draft capital it can get.
The Texans had a number of players that other teams were interested in trading for, but acting GM Jack Easterby was in an awkward position due to his interim title, and he did not want to make a deal unless he was overwhelmed by an offer.
“[Watt will] be traded by March, bank on it,” said one GM. “That’s a hard trade to make in the middle of the season and there are going to be questions about the medicals. [Easterby] can’t make that trade in November. And the owner probably wasn’t quite ready to make it, but it’s coming.”
Indeed, owner Cal McNair was reportedly reluctant to eat salary to facilitate a trade, but given Watt’s age and medical history, McNair will likely need to change his tune this offseason. Watt is due to make $17.5MM in 2021, the last year of his current contract.
Watt, the 11th-overall pick of the 2011 draft, is a Houston legend for his on-field dominance and his off-field charitable work. But he missed significant time due to injury in 2016, 2017, and 2019, and his best days are probably behind him. Still, even an aging Watt can be a force, and there will be a number of contenders interested in his services.
La Canfora names the Steelers and Packers as two potential landing spots.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.