It’s FEELINGS DAY at Battle Red Blog. It’s cold and rainy in Houston, Texas. Halloween is here, and my costume is a middle-aged man with a career I never wanted - FEELINGS. The Astros died - FEELINGS. J.J. Watt’s pectoral muscle died - FEELINGS.
Yeah J.J. died again. That’s three early deaths in four years. Each death a little different, each death less palatable. So what now? The future Hall of Famer has two years left on his deal at $15.5 million in 2020 and $17.5 million in 2021, and all the guaranteed money is paid out.
So with huge contracts for Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil on the horizon, should the Texans make the cold, Patriot-esque decision to move on from the most beloved Houston Texan in franchise history? As with many things, it just not that easy.
The Texans have virtually no pass rush without Watt. In a past life, the Texans could address this with a young, cheap rookie deal via first-round draft pick next season. Or the season after that. But they can’t do that because of the acquisition of Tunsil, unless a GM we don’t even have yet just knocks it out of the park in a later round, and that’s a rare feat when looking for an excellent pass rusher.
Let’s see how some select BRB’ers feel about Watt and his future in Houston.
Read Kenny94’s thoughts here.
First thing, let’s rehash the Jadeveon Clowney trade real quick, because it’s vital in figuring out the Watt situation. Houston decided they wanted to trade him after the franchise tag extension deadline, which capped his value. See the differences in the Frank Clark and Dee Ford packages compared to Clowney. Then, they attempted to trade him for an offensive tackle after realizing now other Tytus Howard or Max Scharping could play left, and Matt Kalil isn’t a NFL caliber anything anymore. After all of that, Houston received BIG PLAY BARKEVIOUS MINGO, Jacob Martin, who is a cheetah with no pass rush moves, and Gareon Conley, a reclamation project who was awful in Oakland this season.
One of the reasons against trading Clowney aside from the fact that he’s incredible and an absolute experience to watch, is that he is a bridge from Watt to the next great Texans’ defense. You can build a defense around Clowney, and with Watt missing two of the previous three seasons, and now three of the previous four, this type of talent is extremely valuable. Clowney wasn’t just a tag team partner he was a future foundation.
But he’s gone and the Texans don’t have this bridge anymore. Watt is the entirety of Houston’s pass rush, and the Texans’ pass defense as its currently constructed depends on it. The Texans are missing their next two first round picks and their next second round pick, and don’t have the cost effective talent needed to build a roster out when you’re paying a quarterback $35 million a year. Houston’s main source of team building is now free agency. Paying Watt, like paying Will Fuller, and devoting a mansion of salary to an injury prone player isn’t a luxury this team should have.
All that being said, paying Watt $15.5 million in Watson’s last rookie deal season is something Houston will need to do. They don’t have another player who can carry a pass rush. Watt should recover from this injury easily. And even at age 31, Watt should be great next season. Then, from there, you just fill him full of collagen and pray he stays healthy or hope you can find a competent enough pass rush in 2021 when Watson becomes a $35 million player.
I’m not ready for this conversation about Texans football without J.J. Watt. Just like I am not ready for any serious medical-diagnosis conversations with my doctor, or an awkward conversation with an elderly parent about how to manage their less-than-self-sufficient circumstances and the need to make a major life change. I’M NOT READY, DAMNIT!!!
The Texans without J.J. Watt is like pecan pie without pecans. It’s like Texas brisket without post-oak smoke. It’s like an aircraft carrier without….AIRCRAFT!
He’ll be back next year. This injury is not hard to recover from in roughly four months. He’ll be back. Do you hear me?
As for the contract aspect, I actually think he’d go re-work his last two years into a three-year team-friendly deal to help bolster the cap space to bring in more talent and make the team stronger.
My hope is that he restructures his contract, and he can stay with us through the remainder of his current contract, at a minimum. This is the “easiest” injury he’s returning from, and I really only foresee an “aging” drop in his numbers.
That said, he IS clearly aging, and we are facing down the double barrel shotgun of extending both Deshaun Watson AND Laremy Tunsil. We are not going to have the cap flexibility we’ve had over the past five or so seasons.
Additionally, considering the Texans don’t have a draft pick until 2026 (or so), the only way to improve this team is via free agency, which will have a heavier impact on our cap situation.
Sadly, certain sacrifices may need to be made.
I just can’t see a time where J.J. Watt plays in the NFL
unless he goes to Green Baywithout being a Houston Texan. I get the whole “this is a business” schtick, but no NFL player has ever done more for the city of Houston than J.J. Watt. He should have a statue built in his honor on display downtown, a system of parks and YMCAs named after him and final say on all coaching changes going forward. In fact, Cal McNair should just work a deal where he trades ownership of the Texans to Watt in exchange for J.J. playing for the league minimum for the rest of his career.
All that being said, Watt definitely seems like the sort of player who would restructure his contract to a team friendly deal to help Houston win. The problem is, does J.J. see that as a move that will actually help them win? For me, that’s the multi-million dollar question.
GREAT - Weston had to bring up the Clowney trade again - FEELINGS.
Goodbye, it’s time to stress-eat candy. In the meantime, pump your J.J. Watt feelings into the comments section!