J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans all-time leader in sacks (96.0), is entering his 10th season with the franchise ahead of what will certainly be an anomaly year for the NFL. Due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, there is serious doubt that the NFL will be able to play a full 16-game schedule, while others express their concern with the league’s inability to play any form of football come the fall of 2020.
There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the league this coming season, which is becoming a theme for Watt’s future in Houston.
The 31-year-old defensive end has two years remaining on his six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed in September of 2014, to become a free agent following the 2021 season. But as he prepares to embark on another year with the Texans through Zoom meetings with his teammates, a new contract is not on Watt’s priority list.
“No, I don’t think that’s necessary,” Watt told Houston reporters on Wednesday. “I fully understand and respect the situation that I’m in at the moment, and what’s happened in the past few years, so I’m not gonna sit here and demand anything. I think if I went back and asked for an extension or more money, I think that would be the wrong move. I am just going out there to prove my worth and to help this team win games.”
As of now, it is unsure what the future holds for Watt’s career with the Texans. Should management re-sign the three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner (2012, 2014 & 2015), the question becomes: How much is Watt worth as he enters the twilight of his career? It’s the subject that will be the driving force when discussing Watt’s future with the team, and the segment that sparked a trade rumor of his departure to the Chicago Bears.
Although his on-field production remains extremely valuable, Watt has had a difficult time trying to stay healthy. Since 2016, he has missed 32 out of a possible 64 games due to an abundance of injuries. In 2019, Watt missed half of the season after suffering a torn pectoral during the Texans’ 27-24 victory over the then-Oakland Raiders.
“My goal for every season is to do whatever possible to help this team win, and number one, that means staying healthy,” he said. “You have to be on the field in order to help the team win, and then it is to play at the peak physical level I am capable of. It is just making sure I am in the best possible shape to perform that way.”
Contract and injuries aside, the five-time Pro-Bowler is excited about his opportunity to play under new defensive coordinator, Anthony Weaver. During his introductory press conference two weeks ago, Weaver said Watt will remain the focal point for the Texans’ defense in 2020, but acknowledged getting the future Hall of Famer through 16 games remains a hurdle.
After four seasons serving as Houston’s defensive line coach, the Texans promoted Weaver to defensive coordinator in January to replace Romeo Crennel.
“I love [Anthony] Weaver……I think that he has a great mixture of knowledge of the game, experience, but also personality to be able to handle the players in the room,” Watt said. “To be able to inject some fun and excitement into meetings, practice and everything, all while bringing the knowledge necessary to run a good defense.”
Under the guidance of a new defensive coordinator, Weaver may be just the coach to help Watt rekindle the potential that made him an All-Pro defensive end since his arrival to the Texans during the 2011 NFL Draft. Regardless of the uncertainties surrounding his future at the conclusion of his contract, Watt is hoping he will have the opportunity to finish his career where it started — in Houston.
“That is a goal of mines, and this city [Houston] has been incredible to me since I got here,” Watt said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but I certainly hope that’s the case.”
(Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
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