This Patriots-Texans trade for JJ Watt really could work
By Jerry Trotta
The Patriots should pursue a trade for JJ Watt after the latest reports of his future emerge.
The organizational ineptitude that’s festered in Houston over the last several years (not that it’s ended) was enough to compel Deshaun Watson, an upstanding individual who is a consistent source of charity in the community, into ghosting the front office and leaking the news via his agent that he wants to waive his no-trade clause this offseason.
For somebody as competitively driven as Watson, who’s also guaranteed close to $130 million over the next five seasons, to be forced into this corner just speaks volumes as to how much has gone wrong with the Texans’ franchise. However, they hit a new low this weekend when it was reported that defensive end JJ Watt is believed to have played his last snap for the team, too.
We’ve tried to convince ourselves that the Patriots could make a trade for Watson, but that’s a pipe dream given the competing market and sheer haul Houston would demand in return.
When it comes to trading for Watt, however, we can definitely picture a scenario in which New England becomes a serious player.
So, what would a grizzled vet like Watt go for at this stage of his career?
Not as much as you might think. In the middle of the season, CBS pitched that a second-round draft pick and a conditional sixth-rounder would be enough to acquire the five-time Pro Bowler. There’s no denying that Watt’s production has tailed off over the last two seasons, and the fact that he only has one year left on his six-year, $100 million deal diminishes his trade value further, seeing as a team trading for him wouldn’t give up a shipment of picks for one year of his services.
With that being said, however, the 31-year-old is still unequivocally one of the best in the league at pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Despite not posting elite numbers for his standards, he still finished as the seventh-highest graded edge defender (85.5) by Pro Football Focus, proving that he still belongs in the elite conversation among pass rushers.
In other words, this is a classic old-school Pats addition.
Taking that into account, the Patriots would probably have to unload a second and a fourth-rounder for Watt. You could even make the second pick a conditional fifth-rounder if you wanted to get fancy. As we’ve seen with Watson, the Texans have zero leverage when it comes to retaining the faces of their franchise, and Bill Belichick should look to take full advantage of the situation.
The Patriots were likely planning to sign a defensive end in free agency anyway. Trading for somebody of Watt’s caliber would not only fill a positional need, but he’d fit right into their culture in terms of players being held accountable and expected to perform at the highest level.
If we were Belichick, we would get former colleague Nick Caserio, who’s now pulling the strings in Houston, on the phone yesterday. Perhaps we picked the wrong Texan to pry here the last time we pitched leveraging Caserio.