J.J. Watt trade rumors began to pick up steam this week when the three-time Defensive Player of the Year admitted he doesn't want to be part of a rebuild in Houston.
"I don't think it's any secret that I don't have 10 years left in this league," Watt said on Wednesday. "I personally believe that I do have a few more great ones left in me. But you also can't ... I'm not looking to rebuild. I'm looking to go after a championship, and that's what I want to do. So, whatever is in the best interest of the Houston Texans, that's in the best interest of myself."
That statement felt authentic. It wasn't a trade demand, but it was a clear message that Watt is willing to move on from the franchise that drafted him for a chance to win a Super Bowl in the few remaining seasons he has left. Jason La Canfora confirmed Watt's desire to join a contender and added that, according to league sources, Watt will be traded before the 2021 NFL Draft.
Where will he end up? Here are the most likely landing spots.
There's been a lot of talk about Watt teaming up with his brothers, T.J. and Derek, in Pittsburgh because it's a feel-good story. The biggest issue is current Steelers star pass rusher Bud Dupree is up for a lucrative extension this offseason and he's proven to be a huge part of their success. Watt can't replace him and at this point is better suited as part of a rotation. Watt has a $17.5 million base salary next year. If he restructured the deal and took a substantial pay cut, perhaps it would make sense from a financial standpoint as well well as an emotional one.
The Seahawks are 22nd in the NFL in sacks per game (1.7) and Benson Mayowa leads the team in sacks with 2. Watt only has 3 sacks, but adding his presence on that defensive line automatically injects an added level of respect every opponent has to honor. The Seahawks traded for Carlos Dunlap at the deadline to enhance their pass rush, but will likely try to enhance it further this offseason through the draft and/or free agency. Why not trade a low pick for Watt, bring in another pass rusher or two, and make Watt part of the rotation that transforms this defense next year?
Green Bay Packers
Watt is a Wisconsin native and played his college ball at the University of Wisconsin. He grew up a Packers fan and owns a house in Wisconsin where he trains in the offseason. As if that wasn't perfect enough, Green Bay runs a 3-4 base defense like the Texans so a transition should be easier. Teaming Watt with the Packers' current top pass rushers (Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary) would give them one of the top units in the league. That's a big step forward for both Watt and Aaron Rodgers as they chase a ring before retirement.