J.J. Watt’s uncertain future has been the NFL’s top offseason storyline in the days following the Buccaneers’ win over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Less than a week after the Buccaneers’ victory, Watt and the Texans announced that the two had mutually agreed to part ways.
With reports regarding his future growing by the day, Watt only needed four words to sum up what life has been like for him since announcing his parting with Houston.
“Free agency is wild,” Watt wrote via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.
Watt’s tweet gives us an excuse to recap where we currently sit as it relates to Watt’s future. The only thing we know for sure is that Watt will not be returning to Houston, his home for the first 10 years of his career. Instead of trading him for assets, Texans owner Cal McNair said that he and the organization wanted to do right by Watt, a face of the franchise and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. McNair is hoping that the franchise can “welcome him back” after Watt spends the next several years with another organization.
Where Watt will play next is anyone’s guess. Watt reportedly wants to play for a team that can pay him his market value. He also wants to play for a team that has a desirable culture and a legitimate chance at competing for a Super Bowl title in 2021. A dozen teams initially reached out to Watt, per reports, including the Steelers, Titans, Bills and Browns. Titans general manager Jon Robinson confirmed on Tuesday that the Titans have had contact with Watt’s representatives. In Tennessee, Watt would be reunited with Mike Vrabel, who served as the Texans’ defensive coordinator in 2017.
While the Titans are certainly in play, Watt is also reportedly considering the Browns, who are coming off of their most successful season in over a quarter of a century. Cleveland’s success last season, its salary cap space, and the culture that Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski has brought to the organization are among the things that have reportedly caught Watt’s attention. In Cleveland, Watt would get the chance to play alongside fellow defensive end Myles Garrett, who earned All-Pro honors in 2020 after recording a team-high 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 14 games.
The Steelers, Packers and Buccaneers are three other teams that have been linked with Watt. Given that they already employ his younger brothers T.J. and Derek Watt, the Steelers are considered among the front-runners to sign J.J. In Green Bay, Watt would get the chance to play in his home state for a team that has advanced to the previous two NFC title games. In Tampa Bay, Watt would join a Buccaneers defense that held the Chiefs’ mighty offense to just nine points in the Super Bowl.
Based on Wednesday’s tweet, it does not appear that Watt will make a decision anytime soon. That being said, one would assume that Watt will choose his next team sometime before the official start of free agency, which will begin at 4 p.m. ET on March 17. Watt would avoid the increased madness of free agency while giving his new team a better idea of what they have to do in free agency as well as in the 2021 draft.