Five-time All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt could wear pewter and red next fall for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as his days with the Houston Texans appear numbered.
Watt, 32, getting traded looks inevitable per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. The former Pro Bowler has a year left on his contract for $17.5 million, a big salary cap hit, as a new coaching regime coming in.
Tampa looks like a top destination for Watt according to USA Today’s Bucs Wire, Bleacher Report, and The Fan 93.7. Bucs quarterback Tom Brady jumps out as the main reason for a Watt fit as Brady drew several veteran stars to Tampa this season and led them to the Super Bowl.
Watt speaks highly of Brady such as his Tweet immediately following the Bucs’ 31-26 NFC Championship win at Green Bay on Jan. 24.
Just absurd what Tom Brady has accomplished in his career.
Undisputed greatest of all time.
Not even remotely debatable.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 24, 2021
Watt reaffirmed his opinion of Brady on the “Tonight Show” per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Christopher Kuhagen, who noted that Watt ironically played for a Wisconsin high school team with a pirate mascot — the Pewaukee Pirates. “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon pulled out a picture of Watt in high school during the interview per Kuhagen.
“Tom’s unbelievable,” Watt said of Brady according to Kuhagen. “He’s the greatest of all time.”
The respect goes both ways. Brady donated $100,000 for Watt’s Hurricane Harvey fund in 2017 after the hurricane devastated Houston per CBS Sports’ John Breech.
With Brady and other stars such as tight end Rob Gronkowski committed to coming back, the Bucs’ Super Bowl window remains open for 2021.
Defensive Insurance Policy
Adding Watt to the Bucs sixth-ranked defense will only help especially with linebacker Shaquil Barrett and defensive end Ndamukong Suh becoming free agents. Suh also turned 34 recently, and Watt would give the Bucs defensive front a bit more youth, The Fan 93.7’s John Healy noted. Watt could also alleviate a variety of departures because of his versatility, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski noted.
Added depth wouldn’t hurt either as the Bucs have seen in their first Super Bowl run since the 2002 season. The Bucs lost nose tackle Vita Vea in Week 5 at Chicago to an ankle injury, and he didn’t return until the NFC Championship.
Injuries still linger for the Bucs defense during Super Bowl Week. Linebacker Lavonte David and safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead were limited in practice as of Wednesday. Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul sat out Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury.
A three-time defensive player of the year, Watt creates havoc in the backfield. He posted five sacks and 52 tackles this season in addition to an interception in 2020.
His 2019 season got cut short due to a pectoral muscle injury, but he had four sacks and 24 tackles prior. He returned for the playoffs per SportingNews’ James Crabtree-Hannigan. Watt also had a monster season in 2018 with 16 sacks and 61 tackles, following injury-riddled seasons in 2016 and 2017.
Watt leaves no doubt about how much he wants to win. He sounded off on the topic during a postgame press conference following a Texans loss, which went viral per NESN.
He helped the Texans reach the playoff six out of 10 seasons with the team. He also helped the Texans rank in the top 10 for both points and yards allowed in three of those 10 seasons, and he bolstered a 2018 Texans defense that ranked fourth in points allowed per Pro Football Reference.