When 3x NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt was granted his release by the Houston Texans on Feb. 12, he instantly became one of the most intriguing free agents in the league. Injuries have set him back in recent seasons, but at age 31 Watts still has some gas left in the tank. We surveyed several of our ESPN Honolulu staff members and asked, “If your favorite NFL team could sign Watt at a cost of $45 million over three years, would you go for it?” Here are their responses:
BOBBY CURRAN, SHOW HOST/ANNOUNCER: “As a hardcore New York Giants fan, I would love to see JJ Watt as a part of Big Blue. The Giants pass rush is anemic, plus there are a number of young players on that defense that would benefit from Watt’s leadership and example. The Giant fans would love him, and all of them remember the times NY whomped the Patriots in the two best Super Bowls ever. They did it with a ferocious pass rush, and the Giants haven’t had one since. If I was Dave Gettleman, I’d sign him tomorrow!”
GARY DICKMAN, SHOW HOST: “If the New York Jets had a chance to get JJ Watt with a three-year, $45-million contract, I’d say do it. Do it now. Do it yesterday. The Jets need help. And even if JJ isn’t the same player he was five years ago, he’s better than anyone they have right now. Make it a heavy back-ended contract. Pay him $10 million this year, $12 million next year, and $23 million the third year. They can cut him by in the third year if he’s not that good, if he’s too injured, etc. Paying $10 million next year isn’t that much, and it’d be a low-risk deal. If he’s good and healthy in year three, it’d be money well spent. I can see it now: JJ watt leads the Jets to the Super Bowl victory, sacking Tom Brady on the last play of the game, causing a fumble, picking it up and scoring a TD. The Jets are finally Super Bowl champs again. One can dream, right?
CHRIS HART, SHOW HOST/STATION MANAGER: “As a Steelers fan, yes – but only if TJ agrees to stay! (We like Derek Watt as well!)”
MATT APANA, GENERAL MANAGER: “Great question. I can only imagine if the Rams got JJ Watt playing next to Aaron Donald. It would be the best defense of all time! Not sure if they have the money to pay him, though.”
CHRIS MOLS, ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: “You KNOW he’s coming to Buffalo to complete the puzzle! Watt rolls up to western New York = championship! Bills Mafia probably already donated to his foundation to convince him we are the city of good neighbors for a reason!”
KU‘ULEI AGBAYANI, DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER/TRAFFIC MANAGER: “The Bears need a QB and more offensive weapons before anything on defense. C’mon, Deshaun Watson!”
LANCE TOMINAGA, WEB EDITOR: Why not? When “my” Las Vegas Raiders hired Gus Bradley as their new defensive coordinator last month, he said his first priority is to upgrade the D-line. The Raiders’ D had only 29 sacks last season – ranking 29th in the league. And that was an improvement over 2018, when they finished dead last with only 13. Those are embarrassing numbers, and the weak pass rush made things even harder for the team’s young secondary. JJ Watt is an alpha player whose mere presence would create more opportunities for young defensive ends like Max Crosby and Clelin Ferrell. $45 million is a hefty price tag, but it’s a risk worth taking.
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