J.J. Watt‘s free agency stay has surpassed the 10-day mark. While the future Hall of Famer’s destination remains unknown, he may be narrowing down his list.
The 10-year veteran defensive end will not join the Steelers, according to John Clayton of ESPN 710 Seattle. During an appearance on 93.7 The Fan Pittsburgh, Clayton indicated Watt is still considering the Bills, Packers and Titans, with the Raiders looming as a dark-horse suitor. The veteran NFL reporter later added the Browns are also still in the mix (Twitter links).
Buffalo and Tennessee were two of the initial teams linked to Watt shortly after his Houston release. The Bills also surfaced as a potential finalist last week. Titans GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel confirmed discussions with Watt have taken place. Vrabel was on Houston’s staff from 2014-17. The Packers trail both the Bills and Titans in cap space for a potential pursuit of the Wisconsin native, but the team has made moves to free up room in recent days. Green Bay, Buffalo and Tennessee each remain over the projected 2021 cap, so each team still has work to do.
The Raiders have not been shy about pursuing veterans under Jon Gruden, and the team has not truly replaced Khalil Mack since the summer 2018 trade. The franchise has not finished with a scoring defense ranked in the top 16 since 2002. Watt would certainly help on this front, though the Raiders are currently nearly $20MM over the projected cap. That trails the Browns, Bills, Packers and Titans.
After contacting Watt’s camp on the day of his release, the Browns were the first team reported as being in the mix to sign the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Cleveland has Buffalo and Tennessee outflanked for cap space and spent much of the 2020 offseason chasing Jadeveon Clowney to team with Myles Garrett. Even if Watt decides to head elsewhere, the Browns are expected to acquire a Garrett pass-rushing wingman this offseason.
Although the Steelers have fellow Watts T.J. and Derek, their cap situation makes adding big-ticket free agents dicey. Pittsburgh is still ironing out details of Ben Roethlisberger‘s impending return, which will require an adjustment from his league-high $41MM-plus cap number.
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