Sean Pendergast

Four Potential Trade Destinations For J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt's best chance at a Super Bowl, unfortunately, is a trade to somewhere other than Houston.
J.J. Watt's best chance at a Super Bowl, unfortunately, is a trade to somewhere other than Houston. Photo by Eric Sauseda
There are many different ways to process this horrific Houston Texans 2020 season. Some folks are confused. After all, we have Deshaun Watson, and the team is relatively healthy. How can this happen? Some folks are sad. Damn, it's a pandemic, can we please have some joy? Some have likely checked out, and said "See you next year... if that."

J.J. Watt? He's just plain pissed off:
Watt's demeanor postgame has now become a thing, to such an extent that Romeo Crennel is de facto apologizing to him in his press conferences for the rest of the defense being so piss poor. Here's Romeo on Monday when asked about Watt being angry:

DE J.J. Watt was clearly frustrated after the game yesterday when talking to the media. What can you do to help him through this situation?
“We can sit down and we can have conversations. We can talk about what’s happening and what he perceives to be the issues and see if we can get those straightened out. But a lot of it will have to do with the guys who play on either side of him because J.J. is a pretty consistent player himself. So, what we have to get those other guys is to be as consistent as he is. If we can get that done, then I think that we’ll improve. I think that if he sees that and sees that we are trying to improve and get better, I think that that will make him feel a little better. But he will not feel better until we start winning. If we don’t win, he’s not going to feel better.”
It's sad to say this, but the best solution for all involved, both the Texans and Watt himself, may be to trade J.J. Watt, something that seemed unthinkable just two seasons ago, when Deshaun Watson was ascending to becoming a $40 million per year quarterback and Watt was returning from injury to reclaim his spot as an All Pro.

For the Texans to move Watt, though, it would need to be a collaborative effort, with the team getting input from Watt on possible destinations. There are very few players that shouldn't be subject to the cold hard business of the NFL, which is "teams will do what's in the best interest of the team and the team only." Watt is one of the rare exceptions. He's meant that much to the franchise, and that much to the city, to where the Texans should only do a deal if he approves of it.


Now, this doesn't mean that the Texans should move Watt at whatever cost. The return must be right for the team, as well, but it should be a trade that the Texans and Watt BOTH feel works. To me, this means the Texans getting a minimum of a second round pick in the 2021 draft. Anything less than that, and I say wait it out until the offseason, when maybe you can create another session of demand around draft time (assuming Watt stays healthy for the remainder of 2020, which is a risk).

Any team trading for Watt would also get him at a decent rate of $17.5 million in 2021. For a Super Bowl contender needing help on defense (or a Super Bowl contender with a good defense looking to become a GREAT defense), Watt for a second round pick would seem to be a good deal. If the Texans find a team willing to deal a first round pick, they should fly Watt out private THAT NIGHT.

I say all this as the biggest fan of Watt the player, and Watt the person, but the Texans have been put in an awful spot by Bill O'Brien's reign of terror as football's Mad King. Here are some destinations that make sense for J.J. Watt:

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
In the last two weeks, the Buccaneers have smoked the Packers by 28 points and the Raiders by 25, and are probably the best team in football right now. They plan to add Antonio Brown to this team in the next week or two, and while the offense has all the brand names, the defense is one of the best in football. Perhaps they'd like to take this defense to the next level and add Watt to this "Dream Team" vibe. Unlike Brown, there's zero chance Watt comes in and upsets the locker room dynamic.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Unlike the Bucs, the Seahawks are a contender with a BAD defense. The Bucs have the best defense in football. The Seahawks have the 26th rated defense according to Football Outsiders. For context, that's one spot ahead of the Texans. The Texans have done business with John Schneider and Pete Carroll before, having sent them Duane Brown and Jadeveon Clowney at substantial discounts. The Seahawks are without first round picks the next two seasons because of the Jamal Adams trade, so perhaps they will be reluctant to move picks for players, but the conversation should take place.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Now we get into the two fairy tale endings for Watt's career. First, how much fun (possibly to an annoying degree) would it be to have ALL THREE WATT BROTHERS on the same team? The Steelers are not afraid to move draft capital for good players, having traded their 2020 first round pick for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick even AFTER Ben Roethlisberger was injured in 2019. Like Tampa Bay, the Steelers are not a team that NEEDS Watt, but WOW, what a strengthening of a strength that would be!

GREEN BAY PACKERS
Now comes the most logical destination on all levels — fairy tale ending, Super Bowl contender, filling a need for both sides. If logic mattered, the Texans should have sent Watt home with the Packers on Sunday night. If nothing else, it would have saved him from his postgame press conference. To refresh....


Bonus contender that there is NO CHANCE Watt will be a dealt to ... TENNESSEE TITANS
The Titans are 5-1 on the season, having just lost their first game of the season to the undefeated Steelers this past weekend. They are undoubtedly a contender, as of right now, in the AFC. While Watt being reunited with his former DC Mike Vrabel and former teammates Johnathan Joseph and Jadeveon Clowney (who might have a left knee injury now) is a neat story, there is now way — I THINK — that the Texans trade him within the division to the city that swiped Houston's FIRST professional football team.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast