Reasons why Bills need to be in J.J. Watt sweepstakes

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Nick Wojton
·6 min read
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The Houston Texans nearly made it an entire week without being in the NFL offseason headlines in a massive way… so close. But then, Friday happened.

Defensive end JJ Watt is being released by the Houston Texans in something that is nothing short of a shocking move. While the Texans have had head coaching and quarterback drama as of late with Deshaun Watson also expressing a desire to leave, Watt is… almost next level.

Watt’s name has become synonymous with Houston.

But now the 31-year-old is free to sign with any team in the NFL, and now the moment you’ve been waiting for: The Buffalo Bills.

There’s little reason why the Bills shouldn’t be involved in the Watt sweepstakes. Some are obvious, but there’s other circumstances that could help Buffalo’s cause, too.

With that, here’s a rundown of reasons why the Bills should be pursing Watt’s services this offseason:

It's a huge need

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The recent NFL postseason displayed a couple of ways the Bills need to improve going forward. As their run showed, Buffalo is close, but they weren't a Super Bowl team in 2020. Among those reasons is because of a lack of pass rush. With 38 sacks last season, the Bills were in the middle of the pack in terms of that stat as a team. They had more sacks than 16 other clubs. But average teams don't win Super Bowls, good ones do. The Bills need a better pass rush, and Watt would provide exactly that.

Buffalo is a contender

Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Bills. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In 2021, Watt is going to be 32 years old and has played a decade in the NFL already. Considering his age, he is going to want to play for a good team and the word "contender" will be tossed around. The Bills are a contender, no question about it, and that should appeal to Watt. Typically when a guy such as Watt is looking for a team that's a contender, you look at two things. First, the Bills were one game away from making it to Super Bowl LV. Buffalo can win in the playoffs. Second, a franchise quarterback. Josh Allen is exactly that.

Closest place to his brother

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99). Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As soon as Watt was released, many looked toward Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a couple of guys with the same last name on their roster... JJ's brothers, Derek and TJ. Maybe the brothers teaming up will be a once in a lifetime thing... that the Bills can do nothing about. Buffalo cannot convince all three to join them. But geographically speaking, the closest NFL city to Buffalo is, in fact, Pittsburgh. Orchard Park is also south of the city of Buffalo, putting JJ that much closer to his brothers. So yeah, seriously, if he can't make it work in Pittsburgh playing with his brothers, why not play for a good team right up the street?

Cap fits like a glove

Bills general manager Brandon Beane. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

A huge negative about Watt to the Bills is the salary cap. The team could not just welcome him with open arms, they would need to do some maneuvering. But there is a silver lining. Currently we don't know what the NFL salary cap will be in 2021 because of COVID-19. Reports indicate that it is scheduled to be between $180-185 million. The Bills sit right in that ballpark, so regardless, cuts will likely be coming to the roster via general manager Brandon Beane. One area where the Bills can find cap space is along their defensive line. Guys like Mario Addison ($6.16M) and Quinton Jefferson ($6.5M) can save big chunks of cap space which can be used to add Watt, while that would also give Watt a roster spot. Fits like a glove.

A 'Texans' connection

Texans general manager Brian Gaine. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

We've already mentioned Watson and how he wants out like Watt is. But the Texans' black hole goes back a few years. The team has made several questionable decisions. Among them? Brian Gaine. Hired by the Texans to be their general manager in 2018, Gaine left Buffalo for that job. He barely lasted year and he was let go and is now back with the Bills as a senior personnel advisor. Considering all the... questionable... circumstances in Houston, the Bills have a guy who would personally know Watt, and could relate to knowing how he feels with the Texans currently. The Bills can potentially use Gaine to get Watt in Orchard Park.

Trickle-down effect

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Watt himself would bolster the Bills pass rush. He's a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. But in adding him, he would provide what Stefon Diggs gave the offense in 2020: A trickle-down effect. Because teams keyed in on Diggs, Cole Beasley showed out as did rookie Gabriel Davis. Defensively, opponents would have to pick their position against Buffalo's pass rush with Watt. Double Watt? Hello, Jerry Hughes and Ed Oliver. Plus, not to mention, this defensive line does have some youthful pieces to it. Hughes is a team captain, but Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott values having as mean of those as he can in his locker room. Watt would provide a leadership element to guys like Oliver and AJ Epenesa.

There's something left in the tank

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Watt is no spring chicken, but that doesn't mean he is playing on fumes in recent years. If the Bills signed him, they'd be getting a guy that has plenty left in the tank. Watt had five sacks this past season, but played all 16 games after having some injury concerns in the middle of his career. The Texans defense had a down season as a whole in 2020, but Pro Football Focus paints a picture of a guy in Watt that still preformed. He was their seventh-best edge defender in the NFL this year, and in every single year he's played, he hasn't finished outside of the top-10 of their ratings. He is still good.

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