J.J. Watt is a free agent for the first time in his career. Given that multi-time Defensive Player of the Years with something still left in the tank do not hit the open market very often, Watt will have plenty of teams blowing up his phone, hoping to convince him to join their defensive line. He's no longer the world-destroying force he was six years ago, but he definitely would still improve just about any franchise's pass-rush situation.
The Pittsburgh Steelers stand out as the most obvious destination, given that Watt wants to win and his brother T.J. is already dominating in black and yellow. Every other team is tied for second place in the Watt race. But today, Mary Kate Cabot reported Watt is "seriously considering" none other than the Cleveland Browns:
"Released by the Texans on Friday, Watt is seriously considering the Browns as one of his options because they have a lot of what he wants, sources tell cleveland.com. The two biggest things? Money and a potential Super Bowl. What’s more, they have a strong supporting cast and a positive environment. Check, check, check, and check."
What a time to be alive when the Cleveland Browns are considered an organization with a legitimate shot at the Super Bowl. The end of days has truly arrived. Three years ago ending up in Cleveland was considered a punishment. Now the most decorated free agent to hit the market in years seems to have them among his top choices. Good for Cleveland.
Now, the idea of Watt lining up across from Myles Garrett is enticing indeed. Watt had some good teammates on the defensive line over his years in Houston. Jadeveon Clowney was the best of the bunch as a former No. 1 overall pick. But Clowney's skillset has never been that of a pure pass rusher. He had 9.5 sacks in his best season as a Texan.
Garrett is a different breed entirely. He's notched double-digit sacks for three consecutive seasons, a mark Clowney never reached in Houston. He had 12 sacks last season in only 14 games. He's a bonafide stud on the outside, a physical marvel of a defensive end who looks like he'll be wreaking offensive gameplans for a long time.
Having that kind of talent alongside Watt would unlock him in ways we've never seen. Watt's body has failed him over the last few years and he'll never reach the heights he did earlier in the decade, but the man can still handle offensive linemen like they're children. Double-teaming or chipping Garrett is one thing, but offenses can't do that while double-teaming Watt and still have linemen left over. They'll have to choose one.
It's easy to imagine why Watt finds Cleveland appealing. He's looking at a season's worth of one-on-one blocks from overmatched offensive linemen. The Browns could even get spicy with it and move Watt inside, where he predominately spent the early part of his career and where he won his first DPOY trophy. He'd also get to play his brother twice a season with a legit chance to meet him in the playoffs and other meaningful games if 2020 is any indicator of how the immediate future of the AFC North will play out.
For fans of teams outside the division, this is the most fun option for Watt. He'd line up next to one of the few players with a similar acumen for rushing the passer and get free reign to wreak havoc while the line's attention has to be diverted elsewhere. It would be a blast.