Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me... pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
The former three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and future Pro Football Hall of Famer finds himself looking for a new home following a turbulent year that saw Houston undergo a complete organizational shift — one that involved making multiple mind-numbing decisions that have left Texans stars such as Watt and quarterback Deshaun Watson wanting out.
Now that the veteran defender has gotten his wish, he has a decision to make, as many teams will be lining up for his services. The question is, will the New England Patriots be one of them?
The short answer is yes, they should be.
Watt is everything that the Patriots look for in a true defensive end. He can set the edge, he disrupts passing lanes, and he isn’t half bad at getting to the quarterback either.
The Patriots defense gave up the seventh most rushing yards in the league in 2020 as they had a revolving door of players on the edge. John Simon, Chase Winovich, Tashawn Bower, Rashod Berry, Shilique Calhoun and Josh Uche all spent time as hybrid end-of-the-line players and struggled mightily at holding down the edge of the defense, contributing to the defense finishing ranked just 25th against the rush.
Not only was the run defense bad, but the team also struggled getting home to the quarterback. While New England did rank first in QB hurries, it finished the season as just the 26th best team in sack production.
So, yes, the Patriots should and probably will make a run at J.J. Watt. Even with the drop-off in production in recent years, the age (32), and the struggle with injuries, Watt presents the opportunity to instantly upgrade New England’s defensive front seven and provide more leadership in a locker room full of leaders but in transition.
Watt’s decision will be a tough one, though. He probably would have to take less money to end up in Pittsburgh where his two brothers play and there are likely to be teams that offer him big time contracts, but provide a similar, losing, situation as the one he was dealing with in Houston.
The Patriots could present themselves as the happy medium, with money to spend and a culture that is unmatched, New England would offer Watt an opportunity to experience something he has yet to experience in 11 years as a Texan: competence.