Any discussion including both the New York Giants and Houston Texans over recent weeks has orbited around unlikely trade packages that would ship disgruntled quarterback Deshaun Watson to East Rutherford.
However, shifting our focus to the opposite side of the football may be more realistic for both teams when it comes to pulling off a deal.
With key defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson both scheduled to be pending free agents this offseason, Big Blue’s needs along their front-seven may quickly prove pressing as we make our way through spring.
In return, two potential former All-Pro Texans pass-rushers, each of whom are rumored to soon be skipping town, could find themselves atop New York’s wish list.
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J.J. Watt Done in Houston?
At this very moment, almost certainly. NFL Network’s James Palmer has gone on record claiming “The belief with teammates and coaches I’ve spoken to is that Watt has played his last game as a Texan.” CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora was a lot more stern when it comes to a potential trade, stating “It’s a wrap” on Watt’s exit from Houston.
Fittingly, outlets have run rampant trying to connect the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year to his next home. While it’s expected Watt would prefer to join a Championship-ready roster, that hasn’t stopped some, such as Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, to link the soon-to-be 32-year-old to the New York Football Giants.
Here’s why Knox believes Watt is a “top-trade target” for the G-Men Entering the 2021 NFL offseason:
While most of the focus in Houston has been centered on Watson’s situation, future Hall of Fame pass-rusher J.J. Watt could also wind up on the trading block. Like the Giants, the Texans are facing a tough cap situation—they’re projected to be more than $17 million over the cap—and they could save $17.5 million by dumping the final year of Watt’s contract.
This is a potential move that would make the most sense if New York is unable to re-sign emerging pass-rusher Williams. However, bringing back Williams wouldn’t negate the need for an improved pass rush.
Williams was responsible for more than one-fourth (11.5) of New York’s 40 sacks in 2020.
The Giants featured the league’s ninth-ranked scoring defense this season. Adding a prolific pass-rusher to the equation is at least worth consideration, even if it would take some serious financial finagling to get a deal done.
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Should Giants Prioritize Whitney Mercilus Over J.J. Watt?
While acquiring Watt would dominate headlines in New York, a move for his teammate Whitney Mercilus could prove a better, more realistic fit for the Giants.
Mercilus is 16 months the junior of Watt and would come at a likely far more reasonable price tag. Furthermore, while his production has dropped off a tad over recent years, the former second-team All-Pro selection would give New York a true edge presence that their current roster construction is lacking.
Even if Leonard Williams were to walk this offseason, a trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence and B.J. Hill would still form one of the league’s more formable interior defensive fronts. However, when it comes to the outside linebacker/defensive end slot, no Giant at the position exceeded more than 4.0 sacks in 2020 (Kyler Fackrell).
While the likes of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are primed to return from injury in 2021, both players present more upside than on-field production. In Mercilus, the Giants would be receiving a player with 54 career sacks and four 7.0-plus sack campaigns to his name.
G Men HQ’s John Makuch enlisted Mercilus among his “5 Trade targets” for the Giants this offseason:
The Giants could use a bit of a boost in the pass rush, and Mercilus is another player who has been thrown around in trade rumors for quite some time.
The NY Giants will potentially have to restructure Mercilus’ contract to make this trade work, but if possible he will be a nice fit in that role as a pass rusher he likes to play from the outside linebacker spot.
Now, Mercilus is no Lawrence Taylor, but he will still be able to provide an impact that may not show up as much in the stat sheet as fans may expect.
Having to worry about a guy like him will open up the game for a young Dexter Lawrence, or even Dalvin Tomlinson if he is still on the team after a trade like this.
Mercilus could use a change of scenery, and the Giants would be a good spot for him to potentially finish out his career and maybe have one of his better seasons this year.
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