JJ Watt’s release from the Houston Texans last Friday opened some new doors for the NFL.
Watt, who turns 32 in March, has spent his entire career so far in Houston.
Watt has endured significant injuries over 10 years, and now many assume the three-time Defensive Player of the Year will consider winning as the top factor in choosing his next destination.
Here are the best destinations for JJ Watt next season:
The Steelers are considered the current favorites to land Watt, primarily because his two brothers are currently both on the roster.
Watt’s younger brother, TJ, led the NFL in sacks and tackles for loss last season with 15 and 23 respectively, and adding JJ to the defensive line would appeal to both parties.
However, Pittsburgh does not offer the best place to win.
It’s uncertain what will happen to the most important position, quarterback, with Ben Roethlisberger showing major signs of regression.
While Pittsburgh did start last season 11- 0, they ended at 12-4 and lost their Wild Card round playoff game.
Pittsburgh also plays in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL which includes the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson, an 11-win Cleveland Browns team that many people believe will improve, and the Cincinnati Bengals who drafted their franchise quarterback last year in Joe Burrow.
Besides a family reunion, the Steelers don’t offer much to make Watt want to pick up the pen and sign right now.
Green Bay is a suitable destination for Watt for a couple of reasons.
The Packers have made two consecutive NFC Championship games in the last two seasons, and while they have lost both, Aaron Rodgers looked a lot more comfortable in his second season with a new offense, and will likely improve more in his third.
The NFC North doesn’t offer much resistance at the moment.
The Lions and Vikings underperformed last year and the Bears were without a consistent starting quarterback throughout the season.
This isn’t even considering the fact that Watt grew up and went to college in Wisconsin and idolized Reggie White and the Packers as a kid.
He also owns a cabin in Wisconsin which is where he filmed his departure announcement video, showing that living in Wisconsin permanently might be an incentive.
Coming home and having a great chance to win, Green Bay seems like a great option.
Tampa Bay would not have seemed like a serious option a couple of weeks ago, but if Watt wants to ring chase, joining the defending champs may seem like the best option.
Tampa’s defense under Todd Bowles is already scary–as seen in the Super Bowl–and adding Watt to the line would make it even more frightening.
It would make sense for Tampa too as adding Watt could be an upgrade from 34-year-old Ndamukong Suh who is a free agent at the moment.
Watt might see how Tom Brady changed the entire culture in just one season and would want to be involved, because well, who wouldn’t?
With Drew Brees’s probable retirement, the NFC South is looking like a lock for Tampa and would offer the best chance for Watt to win.
Watt has been vocal about his love for Texas and it’s a real possibility he would love to stay there and be a Cowboy.
Jerry Jones would be open to it as well as the Cowboys could use an edge rusher like Watt after ranking 20th in the NFL last year and recording only 31 sacks as a team.
It’s also fair to say that if Dak Prescott never got hurt, the Cowboys would have won the NFC East and perhaps made a run in the playoffs.
But, with Prescott’s contract situation still not settled, there are still question marks about the salary cap and whether the Cowboys could even afford Watt.
Don’t consider the Cowboys as a real threat until other moves are made first.
The Cleveland Browns were one of if not the most improved team in the NFL last season as they finished 11-5 and won their first playoff game since 1994.
Improvement on defense should be the top priority for Cleveland and adding Watt would definitely be an improvement.
The Browns need another edge rusher after Olivier Vernon’s future as a Brown is questionable and teaming Watt with Myles Garrett would give the Browns arguably the best defensive line in the NFL.
But, Cleveland is in one of the toughest divisions in football and may not have the strongest roster to ensure Watt that being a Brown is the best chance to win.
If Watt joins any team in the AFC North, it will most likely be with his brothers in Pittsburgh.
As the trade and free-agent sweepstakes begin, it’s almost certain that JJ Watt won’t be left without a team when next season rolls around.