“It’s a wrap,” said one source with knowledge of the situation per La Canfora. “He knows he only has so many games left and he is ready to go and try to win. The guys in that locker room are bracing for it.”
La Canfora writes that people who talked to the Texans ahead of the trade deadline came away with the impression a trade is inevitable despite owner Cal McNair‘s hopes of keeping Watt.
The Texans don’t have first or second-round picks in next year’s draft which is an awful situation for a rebuilding team to be in. While Houston was one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline, La Canfora says interim GM Jack Easterby was holding out for extreme value and didn’t want to make any moves that could backfire.
But another executive who has studied the Texans in preparation for a possible interview for their GM opening says the team will need to move a number of players to regain the draft capital they lost.
“Bill O’Brien made too many mistakes for the next guy to be able to fix them all,” he said. “That’s not happening. That process will take years, and the first step is getting what you can for older players who are making real money.”
And La Canfora notes the 31-year-old Watt doesn’t want to go through a rebuild, which is unlikely to change no matter who the Texans hire at head coach and general manager. Watt has reportedly told people close to him the situation is coming to a head and he’s adamant about joining a contender.
“At the end of the day, Cal respects JJ too much to hold him back,” another source told La Canfora. “I think everyone in their hearts already knows he is going to be moving on. He’s done everything they could have ever asked for, and this chapter is closing.”
As for his eventual destination, Watt’s $17.5 million 2021 salary and concerns about his health could complicate a potential trade. However, La Canfora lists the Packers and Steelers as possible options this offseason.
Watt, 31, is a former first-round pick of the Texans back in 2011. He’s in the sixth year of his eight-year, $108.88 million contract that includes $51.8 million guaranteed.
Watt is owed non-guaranteed base salaries of $15.5 million and $17.5 million in 2020 and 2021.
In 2020, Watt has appeared in seven games and recorded 24 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, one recovery and three pass defenses.