Ever since he was released by the Houston Texans earlier in February, NFL rumors have been hot and heavy as it relates to the next stop for star pass rusher J.J. Watt.
Despite some struggles with injuries over the years, the 31-year-old Watt remains a dynamic player on defense and a difference-maker. That’s why it’s not a surprise over dozen teams have shown interest in him during the early stages of his NFL free agent tour.
We now have some more information on Watt’s potential landing spot courtesy of NFL insider John Clayton.
Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills among favorites to land J.J. Watt
Clayton noted that the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans were leaders in the clubhouse for Watt’s services. He also made it clear that the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders, among other teams, were in on the veteran defensive end.
NFL rumors have linked Watt to his home state Packers on a near never-ending loop. It would make a whole lot of sense. The future Hall of Famer wants to join a contender. Coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, the Packers can be listed among that group.
NFL rumors: How could the Packers land J.J. Watt?
This is the big question mark right now. While Watt certainly wants to contend for a Super Bowl, he’s not going to take a veteran-minimum deal. Here’s a dude who can still easily rake in north of $10 million annually on the open market.
Green Bay currently finds itself $9.79 million over the estimated 2021 NFL salary cap. It also has to think about re-signing Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones.
The good news here is that these Packers have a lot of wriggle room when it comes to creating space. Releasing Preston Smith would save the Packers $8 million against the cap. They are also considering restructuring the contract of Aaron Rodgers, lowering his cap number from $31.56 million.
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Who is the best fit for J.J. Watt in NFL free agency?
As noted, Green Bay makes a ton of sense. The same thing can be said about the Buffalo Bills. Despite a tremendous 13-3 season, the Bills racked up a mere 38 sacks in 2020.
They will more than likely move on from fellow edge rusher Mario Addison and could save cash against the cap by releasing Jerry Hughes. Finances won’t be an issue for the Bills.
The Cleveland Browns also have to be drooling over the idea of teaming Myles Garrett up with Mr. Watt. NFL rumors have pointed in the direction of mutual interest. Much like the Packers and Bills, Cleveland can be considered a Super Bowl contender after one of its best seasons of the past half-century.
Of the other teams bandied about, Tennessee is clearly in need of pass rush help. This team recorded a mere 19 sacks a season ago, the lowest number in the NFL. Just imagine how good the Titans could be after an 11-win season if they were able to add Watt to the mix.
Meanwhile, it’s not a secret that the Raiders will have interest in pretty much any reliable pass rusher on the NFL free agent market. Years later, Jon Gruden is still ruing the day he decided to trade Khalil Mack. Whether Watt would have interest in Las Vegas remains to be seen.