Browns In Mix To Sign J.J. Watt

Shortly after J.J. Watt became a free agent Friday, the Browns reached out about being the future Hall of Famer’s second NFL employer. They may be one of the finalists to sign the ex-Texan.

Watt is seriously considering a Browns agreement, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Browns’ salary cap situation and newfound status as a contender are helping in their pursuit of Watt, Cabot adds. Watt asked the Texans for a release that would allow him to land with a contending team.

The Browns joined the Steelers, Titans and Bills, along with several other teams, in expressing interest in the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Of Watt’s known suitors, Cleveland holds the most cap space. While the Browns do not possess a tremendous amount of space, at barely $20MM, only seven teams hold even north of $30MM in an offseason that is expected to feature a reduced cap.

Cleveland pursued longtime Watt teammate Jadeveon Clowney for months last year and has an even bigger need this year. Olivier Vernon is both set to be a free agent and coming off an Achilles tear. The Browns could benefit from Watt’s ability as an inside rusher as well, with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi also a free agent-to-be.

While giving the Browns a checkmark for roster quality would have been a laughable proposition in most 21st-century offseasons, team is coming off a road playoff win and stands to return most (if not all) of its starters on offense. The team has high-end defensive pieces in Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward but needs help on that side of the ball. Cleveland ranked 25th in defensive DVOA last season.

Although Watt finished a 16-game season as a non-first-team All-Pro for the first time since 2011, the five-time All-Pro still graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 overall edge defender. Set for his age-32 season, Watt signing with Cleveland would allow him to team with Garrett and see fewer double-teams than he did during his run with Houston. Watt finished with just five sacks in 2020 but registered 16, with seven forced fumbles, during his previous full season (2018).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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29 comments on “Browns In Mix To Sign J.J. Watt

  1. phillyballers

    That’s a bold strategy Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for em.

      • mcdusty49

        If Gus Bradley is given the players he needs we will be contenders this year…remember this post :)

        • beauner

          And if Gus Bradley doesn’t have the players he needs he still does the same thing and it is not pretty. He makes no adjustments.

        • iamhector24

          Ill remember that someone thought the raiders were contenders and then I will laugh.

          • mcdusty49

            Offensively we were actually pretty good and even beat the AFC Super Bowl representative on the road during the regular season…but trolls gonna troll…who’s your team @hector?

      • markdavisbarber

        “The Browns’ salary cap situation”

        The Raiders are not going to Watt what he intends to make on this move. You know that JJ is looking to clear $20mil and that does not fit the overall cost structure of the organization.

  2. Tatsumaki

    Browns aren’t a contender. Even with him they will get bounced by ravens, bills, chiefs fairly easily. If he wants to win he should go to chiefs who’s defense was trash as against brady.

    • wagner13

      I disagree. Put Watt on that defensive line across Garrett and the pass-rush is bound to wreak havoc (pending health). So long as the Browns can shore up their linebacking corp and find insurance across from Ward (in case Greedy doesn’t recover), the defense should see tremendous improvement. They certainly have the cap space and some draft capital to do it.

      Meanwhile, you return one of the league’s fiercest offensive lines, a solid signal caller in Mayfield, and a pair of excellent runningbacks on offense. They could stand to add another wideout, but both the draft and free agent market are loaded with available options.

      I certainly wouldn’t sleep on Cleveland and this is coming from a Steelers fan

      • Tatsumaki

        Clearly you didn’t watch them get smoked by kc. Mayfield is a bum, if they trade for Watson then maybe but I doubt as currently constructed they can beat any of the teams I or jcool mentioned.

        • silo11

          What game were you watching?
          If it weren’t for a blown helmet to helmet call that resulted in a ball going through the endzone for a touchback, the chiefs would have been in major trouble and there is a good chance they lose that game. They almost did regardless…where did the smoking come from?

    • Jcool90

      Right the browns know they cannot stop the Ravens. Lmfao and steelers are on their last legs with Ben. Kc, Baltimore,Bills,Rams, Packers, Tampa Bay, Saints, Seattle,steelers, etc are SB teams lol not the browns.

      • wagner13


        Oh yes, because the Ravens and Bills played soooo much better against the Chiefs this season.

        I understand the Browns did not beat Baltimore, but they certainly came close. One would be lying if they thought the Ravens had that MNF game in the bag the entire way through. Not to mention, the Browns have exponentially more cap space than Baltimore. Whereas the Ravens, already plagued with interior line issues, are putting their right tackle on the trading block, Cleveland has upwards of $20 million. Thus, it can be reasonably expected the Browns will add some free agent upgrades in addition to their draft picks.

        I don’t think Mayfield is elite by any means, but he showed enough improvement to solidify himself as a top fifteen signal caller. Given the blocking around him, the Browns can work with that level of talent.

        But sure, “I don’t watch football”

        • Tatsumaki

          It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know the browns aren’t legitimate. Mayfield not only hurts them now but in long term. He is wildly inconsistent through out his career and with him at the helm I don’t expect browns to sniff a super bowl. By all means though keep blowing air watt isn’t the missing piece to a super bowl contender like stafford to the Rams will be. If watt wants to win it won’t be in browns if it’s for the money he will go to browns simple as that.

      • Brownsbacker9

        Steelers? Browns beat them twice. Saints are going to lose a few players including Brees. Browns are team getting better and I’m not sure you can say that about those other teams

  3. crosseyedlemon

    Jules Winnfield: “Say Watt again. Say Watt again. I dare you, I double dare you. Say Watt one more GD time”.

  4. Brownsbacker9

    Steelers? Browns beat them twice. Saints are going to lose a few players including Brees. Browns are team getting better and I’m not sure you can say that about those other teams

  5. MileHighFan

    Will the real Browns please stand up? There’s something just a bit off with them, thus you never know which Browns team is going to show up. Perhaps that is a reflection of the quarterback…

    • Brownsbacker9

      Mayfield threw 20 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the last 8 games. Defense is what kept Cleveland from advancing. Cleveland is in about as good of a position to be in as any NFL team. Young. Good coach. Cap room.

  6. cavsarethebestever42

    Hope he does come to Cleveland. He can be a real threat, especially being right across from Myles Garrett.

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