Three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Five-time First-Team All-Pro selection. Five-time Pro Bowl selection. One-hundred-one career sacks. At 31-years-old, former 11th-overall draft pick J.J. Watt has suddenly become a free agent. With one year remaining on a six-year, $100-million contract Watt announced the Houston Texans, the only NFL team he has known, was releasing him in a mutual agreement to part ways.
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me... pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
A star edge rusher is now on the open market (or will be once the release becomes official). But, he is also an oft-injured edge rusher. Watt has been the face of the Texans - even with quarterback Deshaun Watson on the roster - but at 31, he is not in a position to go through a rebuild, which it appears is about to start in Houston. He is going to be looking for a team that can get him into championship contender status.
Is that the Miami Dolphins?
The Dolphins are a choice destination now for free agents as the coaching has stabilized under Brian Flores, the team has a young franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, and, through every metric, looks like a team ready to move into the playoffs in 2021 and start competing for the Super Bowl. There are still pieces they need to add this offseason to make sure they do take that next step forward, and an edge rusher could be a critical part of those additions.
SportsBetting.com released odds for Watt’s next team, with the Green Bay Packers the favorite at 3/2, potentially allowing the Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin product to return home. The Pittsburgh Steelers are second at 2/1, a move that would reunite Watt with brothers T.J and Derek. T.J. is a linebacker for the Steelers, while Derek is a fullback.
Other teams listed in the odds include the Dallas Cowboys (4/1), Los Angeles Rams (5/1), Las Vegas Raiders (8/1), Chicago Bears (10/1), Denver Broncos (10/1), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12/1), Baltimore Ravens (12/1), Cleveland Browns (12/1), Buffalo Bills (12/1), New England Patriots (15/1), Minnesota Vikings (15/1), Los Angeles Chargers (20/1), San Francisco 49ers (20/1), New York Giants (20/1), Tennessee Titans (20/1), and Kansas City Chiefs (25/1). Right in the middle of the list are the Dolphins, who are listed at 15/1.
Could the Dolphins be interested in Watt? Would Watt be interested in the Dolphins?
It probably is not a move the youth-oriented, developing Dolphins would immediately make, but it has to be one they at least discuss. Watt played all 16 games last year for the Texans, but only recorded five sacks. In 2018, he tallied 16 sacks in 16 games played, with a league-high seven forced fumbles. Would Miami be adding a player like the 2018 Watt, or would they get the player who missed eight games in 2019, 11 games in 2017, and 13 games in 2016?
Miami could use a dominant pass rusher to play opposite Emmanuel Ogbah, who recorded nine sacks last year. Is Watt still a dominating pass rusher?
I would at least see if Watt is interested in heading to South Florida, but I would not be willing to break the bank for him. There are too many questions about his availability to make him a slam-dunk signing. If he comes in with the right price and does not change the plans for what Miami wants to do in the offseason, then you sign him. But, if Watt wants to be paid like an elite pass rusher, I pass.