February 12, 2021
BY Lance Cartelli

The 5 Best Landing Spots for J.J. Watt, Ranked

Houston has done it again. 

In another example of the Texans' ineptitude, Houston released J.J. Watt on Friday despite reportedly being able to receive a second- or third-rounder if they traded him. 

This joins the laundry list of front office failures for the Texans. 

But now that Watt is free from the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL, he'll be able to join a team with potential championship aspirations as the 32-year-old pass rusher isn't getting any younger. 

With plenty of teams surely interested in signing him, which franchises should be at the top of Watt's list? 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are the sentimental favorite for Watt's services next season. That's because his two brothers, T.J. and Derek, are employed by Pittsburgh. 

T.J. Watt quickly advocated for the move on Twitter. 

And while he would be a great addition to an already scary Steelers defense, it just doesn't make sense financially unless J.J. Watt is willing to take a massive pay cut to play in Pittsburgh. 

The Steelers are currently more than $30 million over the projected $180.5 million salary cap in 2021. They could renegotiate with Ben Roethlisberger and make other cost-cutting moves, but it's tough to see Watt playing for a pittance in Pitt. 

4. Tennessee Titans

After asking for his release, Watt presumably wants to 1) play for a contender and 2) beat the Texans as much as possible. And the Titans give him that opportunity. 

Despite losing offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to the Falcons, the Titans have ingredients of an electric offense thanks to the trio of Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown. But the defense is what's holding the team back. 

The Titans finished 29th in defensive DVOA in 2020, according to Football Outsiders. Tennessee could absolutely use a pass rusher with Watt's leadership skills. 

Not to mention, Watt played for Titans coach Mike Vrabel from 2014 to 2017. 

The Titans are currently more than $3 million over the salary cap, so they'd have to make room to sign the former Texans All-Pro. That could make things interesting with Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith hitting free agency. 

3. Green Bay Packers

While the Packers wouldn't play the Texans as often as the Titans, Green Bay would be a nice homecoming for Watt, who played at Wisconsin after transferring from Central Michigan. 

And with plenty of holes on defense, Watt would be a much-needed addition. Signing Watt would also allow the team to use their draft picks on other positions of need, such as wide receiver, offensive line and defensive back. 

The Packers are another team that will need to make some tough financial choices as they're more than $28 million over the salary cap. But for what it's worth, the Packers are currently the betting favorites to sign Watt, according to CBS SportsLine. 

Watt might be just what the team needs to make a Super Bowl run with Aaron Rodgers. 

2. Indianapolis Colts 

With a nice $69 million in salary-cap space, the Colts could be the most attractive option on the market for Watt. 

Like the Titans, he'd get to play against the Texans twice next year and he'd join a playoff team with championship aspirations. 

The Colts, of course, need to figure out their quarterback situation, but that roster is ready to compete. And with Watt in tow, the Colts — the seventh-most efficient defense, per DVOA — should be even better. 

The Colts could theoretically offer Watt the highest-paying deal and a rather lovely situation, so who could possibly be a better fit? 

1. Buffalo Bills

If Watt wants a ring — and the Chiefs don't come calling — then the Bills offer the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year his best chance at winning a championship. 

As you're probably aware, Buffalo has an exciting MVP candidate in Josh Allen, a top-five receiver in Stefon Diggs, a defensive-minded coach and a fan base that would immediately endear themselves to the hard-working Watt. 

The Bills defense could definitely use the pass-rush juice that Watt would deliver in Buffalo. 

While the Bills don't play in the same division as the Texans, Buffalo does play Houston next season — which is probably an attractive selling point as well. 

If the Bills can reel in Watt, then Buffalo might be even better next year. 

Photo: Getty Images