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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Where will Watt want to work? Answer: The Desert


Last updated 3/2/2021 at 7:34pm

To no one’s surprise, when the final gun sounded and ended a 4-12 season for the Houston Texans, it would be the last game J.J. Watt would play in a Texans uniform.

The 10-year Superstar felt he had some good productive years left in the tank at age 32, but he wanted a Super Bowl ring.

And playing for a team that hadn’t even gotten out of the Division Round of the playoffs, it wouldn’t happen for Watt in Houston.

So, before a new general manager and head coach were hired, Watt and Chairman/CEO Cal McNair made some sort of “Gentlemen’s Agreement” for his release so J.J. could select the next team he wanted to play for that has a good chance of fulfilling his Super Bowl desire before free agents can sign with another team later this month.

Watt could see the writing on the wall that the 2021 edition of the Texans would not be competing for the Super Bowl but most likely throwing the helmets into the ring for the right to next year’s No. 1 overall draft pick.

Sharing the honor of being the best football player to ever play in Houston with Oilers star running back Earl Campbell, the city will really miss J.J.

Besides being the named the NFL’s Best Defensive Player three times—along with Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald—Watt has done many off-the-field wonders for the City of Houston.

When the city was ravaged with the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Watt personally raised $41.3 million—mostly just on his name and his appearances at the flood scenes—which helped build 1,183 homes, 971 Childcare and After School programs, helped more than 108,000 kids and distributed over 239 million meals to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

When analyzing NFL teams and where Watt could end up, issues like a team’s scheme, coaches, needs on defense and the salary cap situation should be taken into consideration.

And for one who has made more than $100 million with the Texans plus his endorsements, money definitely will not rule Watt’s decision. He still wants football to be fun for him.

The most fun the game for him would be to join his two brothers, T.J. and Derek, at Pittsburgh. But with aging Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Super Bowl seems to be a stretch. Besides, the Steelers must shed around $32 million in salary cap to be compliant by the time the new league year starts.

The Texans defensive coordinators that Watt really liked and respected, Anthony Weaver and Mike Vrabel, who is now head coach of the Tennessee Titans, who are desperate to improve their pass rush that recorded only 19 sacks.

Watt could step in and contribute immediately for the defending AFC South champions and as a bonus get to play twice a year against the Houston Texans.

And Weaver, who left the Texans to become head coach of the Baltimore Ravens in January, has a veteran defensive coordinator in Wink Martindale, whose players love to play for him, according to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle.

The fact that Watt grew up in Wisconsin, owns a home there and was a die-hard Packers fan makes Green Bay a top choice. Head Coach Matt LaFleur would love to add Watt to his defense after losing the NFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons.

Veteran players used to flock to New England because they knew that quarterback Tom Brady would lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl. Now Brady did just that at Tampa Bay last season and J.J. Watt could very well be at the head of the line as the Buccaneers are the early favorite to repeat the world championship.

Don’t rule out the Chicago Bears because Watt’s wife, Kealia, plays for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League. J.J. spent a lot of time in Chicago since she was traded by the Houston Dash.

If Watt wants to play with another great young quarterback like Deshaun Watson, then Kansas City with Pat Mahomes should be considered. Head Coach Andy Reid needs to beef-up his defense, especially the pass rush.

Other teams that have shown interest include Buffalo (the Bills would have to make some cap room), Cleveland (imagine opposite Myles Garrett), LA Rams (they’re $32 million over cap) San Francisco 49ers, Miami and Seattle (an acquisition of Watt’s caliber might pacify suddenly disgruntled quarterback Russell Wilson—also a University of Wisconsin product).

But Watt made the media prognosticators look silly by deciding to sign a 2 year, $31 Million contract with the Arizona Cardinals Monday afternoon, with $23 Million dollars guaranteed.

The determining factor for moving to the desert was former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who told Watt to “finish what we started” meaning the Super Bowl. It should be a slap in the face for the Texans, who lost the best offensive and defensive players in franchise history to the same team for peanuts, as far as NFL deals are concerned.

When Watt was drafted by Houston in 2011, Orange native Wade Phillips was the Texans’ defensive coordinator and was asked then if he thought J.J. would be a bust. “Yeah,” Phillips replied, “a bust in the Hall of Fame.”

Phillips must be clairvoyant because five years after J.J. Watt retires as a player he should be getting a bust in Canton Ohio as a first-ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, according to the Chronicle’s article.

KWICKIES…Many PGA Tour golfers saluted Tiger Woods Sunday by wearing his traditional red in the final round of the WGC Workday Championship at Bradenton, Fla. Young Collin Morikawa won the event by three strokes and thanked his childhood idol Tiger for making the game lucrative for today’s pros. Tiger is recovering from an auto accident and mentioned that the support from his fellow golfers made him feel much better.

The University of Houston Cougars blasted past South Florida 98-52 Sunday for their 20th win of the season against three losses. Veteran head coach Kelvin Sampson believes his team is ready for March Madness later this month. On the other side of the coin is the Houston Rockets who were demolished at home Sunday by the Memphis Grizzlies 133-84 for their 11th straight setback.

Baltimore Orioles’ infielder Troy Mancini was cheered by both benches and the fans as a colon cancer survivor. Mancini, who missed the 2020 season while recovering, laced a single in his first at bat but his team lost 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

JUST BETWEEN US…When Major League Baseball’s spring training season opened Sunday at Florida and Arizona the Grapefruit League ruled that spring training games through March 13 can be shortened to either five-or-seven-inning games upon agreement by both managers. Games after March 13 can only be condensed to seven-inning games if both managers agree. The Houston Astros played seven innings Sunday and were defeated 6-1 by the Miami Marlins.


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