NFL rumors: Houston Texans star J.J. Watt likely to play elsewhere in 2021

Will J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson both be leaving the Houston Texans before the 2021 season? The latest NFL rumors suggest that could very well be the case.

Dec 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during warmups before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans are at a crossroads with a new front office and coaching staff, and deciding whether or not to retain J.J. Watt is one of many dilemmas they face as an organization.

According to the latest buzz out of Houston, it could very well be that Watt is leaving the Texans in 2021, along with superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Read More: Deshaun Watson officially demands trade from Houston Texans

J.J. Watt to part ways with Houston Texans?

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported on Saturday that watt’s days with the Texans organization are likely numbered:

Watt was the unquestioned leader of the team before Watson was drafted 12th overall in 2017, and continues to be one of the few bright spots Texans fans can count on in recent years.

Now that the team is set for a full-blown rebuild under new general manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley, it makes sense for Houston and Watt to move on, as it’d likely be beneficial for both parties.

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What J.J. Watt leaving means for Houston Texans future

What J.J. Watt leaving means for Houston Texans future
Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) talks with quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) after a loss to the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There’s some serious sentimental value involved here, which will make it difficult for the Texans to let Watt loose. However, there is merit to the decision. Even though Watt has remained supremely loyal to the team that drafted him with the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t like a fresh start, too.

Watt is due to count as a $17.5 million cap hit in 2021 as it is, and given the current turmoil surrounding Houston at the minute, he’d be unlikely to re-sign with the Texans for what’s, in all likelihood, going to be his final NFL contract. It’d behoove Caserio and Co. to gauge the trade market for Watt, or simply release the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year to cut costs.

Even though Caserio insists he’s trying to keep Watson and has “zero interest” in trading him, it’s looking like the relationship between Houston and Watson is beyond repair. Why would Watt want to stick around for that?

The reality is, Watt has been too good of a player for too long to not have had a more realistic chance at a Super Bowl. At this juncture of his career, you could see him even restructuring or adjusting his pay just for a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

With Houston due to be $16 million over the cap this coming season as it is, it’d frankly be nice to see Watt freed from a seemingly toxic situation to pursue a more winning culture on a team that doesn’t require a roster overhaul.

Watt only appeared in eight games between the 2016 and 2017 seasons due to injuries, and missed half of the 2019 campaign as well. Nevertheless, Pro Football Focus still ranked Watt as the No. 3 edge defender in 2018 and seventh this past season, so it’s not like the Texans’ 4-12 record had anything to do with his performance.

Any perception that the 10-year NFL veteran is washed up or doesn’t have much left in the tank can be easily dismissed. This should only help facilitate a trade, or increase Watt’s market value if and when the Texans release him.

Again, though, at this point, Watt has done all an individual defender can probably hope to do aside from winning a Super Bowl. Look for him to pursue that if Houston sets him free.

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