All signs point to the 2021, 2022, and maybe even the 2023 Houston Texans seasons being complete atrocities. 0-16, 1-15, 2-14, 3-13...it’s all on the table. The talent pool is empty. The roster is bare. The Texans failed Deshaun Watson, and he’s all they have left. With Watson, the Texans are shambles. Without Watson, the Texans are scorched earth.
The immediate future of Texans football will be all about watching late round picks and hoping they become something. Searching for glints of the future. Watching and feeling something during important football will come from living vicariously through non-Texans players and teams.
J.J. Watt has already beat Deshaun Watson to the escape hatch. The greatest player in franchise history asked for his release from the franchise and his wish was granted. Houston created $15.5 million in cap space with Watt’s release, and Watt gets to play meaningful football again somewhere else. The Texans won’t have their skid-marked underwear up on J.J.’s line.
Next season will probably be all about cheering on whichever teams Watson and Watt end up on. Earlier this week, it was reported that Watt has narrowed his choices down to three teams: Packers, Titans, and Bills, with the Raiders as a dark horse candidate. One of these teams could be your new favorite team next season.
For this week’s GroupThink, I asked the masthead the following question: Of the three teams Watt is reportedly considering, where do you want him to play and why? These are their responses:
Personally, I love all three choices. Green Bay is the hometown team. Watt is already a Wisconsin God. Cheese statues will be constructed in his image if he returns home. Watching him join hands with Z’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark—who was an absolute werewolf down the stretch last year—and Rashan Gary, if he ever becomes a good football player again, would be cheesy delight. To make it work under the salary cap, the Packers would probably have to release Preston Smith, who was ineffective last year, to create $8 million in cap space. The big G, green and yellow...I can see this. With their balanced offensive attack, the Packers should win the NFC North again.
TITAN UP. Let’s go, BABY. Everyone loves to play for Mike Vrabel. Hell, even I would have mutilated myself for him until his COWARD’S punt in last season’s Super Wild Card Round game against the Baltimore Ravens. Watt already knows Vrabel’s 3-4 defense. He’d pair perfectly with Jeffrey Simmons. The Titans’ pass rush was impotent last season. I know the Jadeveon Clowney experiment was a whimper, a failed science experiment, a volcano made with flat vinegar, but maybe Tennessee would bring Clowney back on a small, one-year contract. We only had one great Watt and Clowney season. The man above deprived us from so much. I want another one. Yes, this is just fan fiction. This is my favorite choice, but only if Watt and Clowney joined hands once again.
That being said, of the three, the Bills are my top choice. As a Bills, Titans, Washington Football Team fan, as the only true Texans-Bills fan around, as someone who has loved Josh Allen for three years now, there isn’t a better spot. Because of Allen and Buffalo’s passing offense, the Bills are Super Bowl contenders. Watt would play meaningful football there.
Buffalo’s pass rush was crappy last season. Although it was deep—Ed Oliver, Mario Addison, Quinton Jefferson, A.J. Espenesa, Vernon Butler, Jerry Hughes, and Trent Murphy—their front four failed to create much on their own. Hughes was the only plus pass rusher they had.
Watt would be an incredible addition. He could create for others and unlock the talent Buffalo already has.
Damn, I already can’t wait for September.
The only place I’d object to him going is Tennessee, for obvious reasons.
I’d be fine with him going to Green Bay, but I think I’d prefer him in Buffalo.
For sentimental purposes, I would be good with him in Green Bay. Going home to fortify a defense that already has some good pass rushers, plus his presence might be enough to chill the Aaron Rodgers discontent, makes for a good 2021 story. Not sure how they will juggle the caponomics to make it happen and I don’t see Watt making around $17.5 million a year there, but it’s doable. With Rodgers, the Packers are probably the best immediate option of the three for Super Bowl contention.
I don’t have any personal issues with Watt in a Buffalo jersey. J.J. Watt Twitter, combined with the power of the Bills Mafia, could make that franchise a force on the field and the hands-down dominant social-media force in the NFL, if not all of sports. Again, the capnomics would be difficult, but not impossible. They are a team entering their competitive window, so Watt could be good with a multi-year deal that pays far lower than his previous contracts, knowing that the Bills are going to be contenders for those seasons.
I guess because we would dread it, the Fates will probably give Watt a Nashville address. Tennessee doesn’t have a great cap situation either, and of the three, they might be the furthest away from contention (albeit still with the pieces to go on a run if fortune allows, a la their 2020 AFC Championship Game appearance run)). Still, Watt has familiarity with Vrabel, which doesn’t hurt. Nashville is the biggest urban center of the three, allowing Watt greater opportunities to expand his Q-rating, off-field income, and/or options for post-football life.
I suppose there are still other players/contenders out there, but if it is these three, I figure Buffalo might be the best on-field option for a longer window (two-three years) with the Titans the best for off-field/post-playing considerations. Watt will obviously do what is best for him, as he should. Yet seeing him in another team’s jersey will remind me how much I loathe the McEasterby regime and what it is doing to this team.
I’m on the Green Bay train for purely sentimental reasons. The kid from Wisconsin heading home would be a fantastic way for him to enter the twilight of his career. Green Bay needs defensive help badly and would be more willing to throw more money at him, even if it’s not about the money. The only problem is that the Packers are in the negative for cap space according to Spotrac. The Bills hover just over $5 million in available cap space; a contract with Watt would absorb basically all of that plus some.
I’d imagine Watt signing a three year, $28 million contract with an estimated $11 million guaranteed for whoever he plays with. There should be a ton of money upfront to compensate for his lost salary for 2021 and then tapered amounts for the next year or so.
I can also see Watt going to Pittsburgh to complete the Watt trifecta with the Steelers. That is the soap opera type stuff the NFL eats right off the bone.
Of those three choices, it’s Green Bay all day long. Seeing J.J. and Clowney reunited in Tennessee is a Houston fan’s worst defensive nightmare—might as well trade them Deshaun Watson for a waiver wire punter while we’re at it.
Ideally, I’d still love to see him land in Pittsburgh to play with his brothers. Having both T.J. Watt and J.J. on the same defensive front would be a lot of fun to watch. However, putting him on the Packers’ defense could be the nudge that the team needs to get past the Buccaneers and into the Super Bowl next year.
Watt signing with the Buffalo Bills brings a lot of “meh” to the situation. Sure, Buffalo is doing well right now and seems poised to make a run, but in the end, they’re not going to get past Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs anytime soon regardless of whether they add J.J. Watt or not. So he’d essentially sign with the 2011 Texans at that point—a team with a lot of potential that will eventually fall apart before reaching the promised land.
So, if he’s not going to Pittsburgh, if I was Emperor of the Universe, Watt would suit up in Packers green and gold. He’d hoist a Lombardi Trophy with Aaron Rodgers and company.
I’d like to see Watt land in Buffalo. The fanbase there is rabid and mindless—the perfect football fans. They would have a great connection, and the Bills appear poised to be a legitimate threat in the AFC. With Brian Daboll sticking around, Watt doesn’t have to worry about whether Buffalo’s offensive success was more Josh Allen or Daboll, which is in contrast to the now Arthur Smith-less Titans.
Also, if Watt is actually considering the Titans, that makes me sad.
I‘m going with the Buffalo Bills.
Of course the Packers would be a great option here, but I think J.J. Watt playing in Buffalo for that fanbase would be a blast to watch. Adding him to a rotation with guys like Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Trent Murphy, and AJ Espensa would be awesome.
I’d definitely have to pick the Packers, with the Bills as a close second.
J.J is going to be a great passing down rusher for a contender, but I think that it would make for a great story having him go to his favorite childhood team. I believe that the Packers would be in a fantastic position to retain a top spot in the NFC next season if Watt signed there.
If we’re going to lose another franchise legend to a divisional rival, I’d just might give up on this Durga-forsaken franchise.
I now ask you, dear reader. Where do you want Watt to sign to play in 2021?
Where do you want J.J. Watt to sign?
This poll is closed
UPDATE: You’re not gonna believe this, but we were totally wrong about where J.J. Watt would sign as a free agent.