J.J. Watt Extension is Refreshing for the NFL

At a time when slightly above-average quarterbacks are being thrown tens of millions in guaranteed money, it’s refreshing to see a dominating player like Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt get paid.¬†

Numerous reports are now indicating that the All-Pro has agreed to a six-year, $100 million extension with $52 million guaranteed. Some may indicate that this is a ridiculous contract for a defensive player. But that point would be both absurd and a bit too simple minded.

In reality, Watt is the best pure football player in the NFL today. He is better than Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. He is more dominating than Calvin Johnson. And he does more for his defense than the Richard Sherman’s of the world.

Playing a less-sexy position than those four players listed above, Watt may not get the same type of notoriety. He’s a 6’6″ 290-pound grunt in a league that seems to glorify great arms, speedsters and trash-talking defensive backs.

But Watt’s impact on the game cannot be understated.

Looking at basic statistics, the numbers are mind-boggling. Over the course of the past two years, Watt has put up 31 sacks, 23 passes defended and eight forced fumbles. For comparison’s sake, those 23 passes defended from the defensive end position in his last 32 games are more than some top cornerbacks in the NFL.

As with any defensive player, simple statistics don’t tell the entire story.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Watt put up a total grade of +99.8 last season. The second player in the NFL in that category was St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn at 74.6.

In addition to this, Watt graded out first in both the pass-rushing and run-stuffing categories among 3-4 defensive ends last season.

That’s utter domination in every sense of the term. The ability to change the outcome of a game as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Just think about this for a second. This is a position that usually does the dirty work for the more glorified stand-up pass rushers from the outside linebacker position. For Watt to be able to produce these numbers on a consistent basis, it’s a representation of just how good he is.

Lost on all this is the fact that offenses throw protection over to Watt’s side more than any other down linemen in the league. He is consistently facing double (and sometimes triple teams). And yet, Watt is still able to produce these awe-inspiring numbers. Not since Lawrence Taylor in his heyday have we seen this type of performance from a defensive player in the NFL.

And for that, Watt deserves every bit of the guaranteed money that is coming his way. He’s a generational talent at a position where there haven’t been generational talents in the past. He’s a great individual off the field and a team leader on the field. His passion drives those around him to be better simply because they don’t want to look bad in comparison. And his work ethic is unparallelled¬†around the league.

With all the news surrounding arrests, the NFL’s domestic violence policy, trash-talking among cornerbacks and the media’s handling of Michael Sam, it’s refreshing to see a story like this come up.

Watt has earned every single penny of his new contract. And he can act as a role model for younger defensive players around this league by saying “do it like I do it, and you will get paid.”

Photo: USA Today