Houston and J.J. Watt announced parting ways on Friday, opening the door for the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to add an elite defense.
The Texans agreed to release the five-time All-Pro defensive end, who had a year left on his contract for $17.5 million per ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. Tampa looks like a fit for Watt according to Sporting News’ Bill Bender.
Watt announced his departure to Texans fans after 10 seasons in Houston on Friday via Twitter. “You guys have given me everything and more, and I hope that you feel like I’ve given you everything I have.”
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year made 52 tackles, five sacks, and an interception last season. He had a career year in 2018 with 16 sacks and 61 tackles, and he tallied four sacks and 24 tackles in an injury-shortened 2019 season. Injuries kept Watt on the sidelines often since 2015 as he played only three 16-game seasons in that span.
Tampa has several key defensive players becoming free agents in March — defensive end Ndamukong Suh and linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David. Adding Watt would either help offset one or more of those players leaving or make an already strong defense deeper.
The Bucs defense dominated Kansas City in a 31-9 win in Super Bowl LV.
Watt could become the latest veteran star to join Brady in the Bay.
Veteran stars Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, and LeSean McCoy did just that for the 2020 season. Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement and got traded to the Bucs.
Watt publicly esteems Brady and called him “the greatest of all time” on the “Tonight Show” last month per Fox 26’s Mark Berman.
“I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity, and I’ve been working extremely hard,” Watt said in his Twitter post. “But at the same time, it is always tough to move on.”