Patriots offseason just got a lot easier following JJ Watt’s release
By Mike Luciano
While most of the rumors surrounding Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots this offseason have been related to their quest for a star quarterback, a Friday morning news dump could’ve completely turned Houston’s plans upside-down. For the first time in his career, former Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt is on the market.
Watt recorded just five sacks in an awful 4-12 season in Houston, but his lack of production can be assigned to the fact that he was frequently double-teamed due to a lack of depth at edge rusher. In keeping with the chaotic nature of Houston’s offseason, Watt has officially asked for a ticket out of town.
Jack Easterby, and whoever else fits in his clown car in Houston, granted Watt his release, meaning that a five-time First-team All-Pro player is on the market.
Belichick needs to drop everything he’s doing and figure out a way to make sure that Watt ends up in New England this offseason.
JJ Watt would be a perfect fit with the Patriots.
Last year’s 7-9 mark might not look great for prospective free agents, but Belichick accomplished that record with an inconsistent Cam Newton at quarterback, minimal perimeter talent, and some of his best defensive players, including Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung, opting out of the season due to COVID-19. New England could be a contender next year if everyone comes back.
To play on Belichick’s defensive line, you have to be able to play the run and pass equally well, take on multiple blockers to free up the linebackers, and line up in several different positions. Watt can provide all three of those things in spades, all the while using his signature brand of veteran savvy and leadership to galvanize a locker room in flux.
While Watt’s injury history is concerning, that shouldn’t be a reason to completely ditch the idea of acquiring him. Watt should be able to produce in New England, as Belichick’s defensive mind and a young front seven would likely prevent Watt from getting sandwiched in between two blockers like he was with the Texans the last few years.
Before contenders like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who could entice him to choose the Steel City by allowing him to play with his brothers TJ and Derek, get their hands on him, New England needs to pounce. Belichick is supposedly gearing for an “aggressive” offseason, so what better time to prove his daring nature?
If Belichick could draw up his ideal defensive end on a board, it would look exactly like Watt. While he might not put up the gaudy sack totals that made him a future Hall of Famer, he can still challenge for double-digit sacks while providing excellent run defense and a vocal leadership that should be warmly received in New England.