J.J. Watt was released by the Houston Texans, after a mutual agreement with the Texans Ownership. With the Texans looking like they will be in the basement of the NFL for years to come, it’s an understandable decision from a 10-year veteran that has never played in a conference championship game. While defensive end isn’t necessarily a position of need for the Browns, with Myles Garrett picking up 12 sacks in the 2020 season, the Browns’ other defensive end, Olivier Vernon, is a free agent. Vernon had a good 2020 season, but his two years in Cleveland were underwhelming and he ended his season with an Achilles injury, so there could be some questions about his return.
Watt is one of just three players ever to win three defensive player of the year awards. It is true that he hasn’t won one since 2015 and he’s also struggled with injuries recently. After not missing a single game in his first five seasons, he’s just played 48 out of a possible 80 games. However, Watt has played in all 16 games in two of the last three seasons. He’s just two years removed from a 16 sack season and he’s still got plenty of talent as an edge rusher. Due to Watt struggling to get to the quarterback in recent seasons, he would get more one on one chances, as teams would be focused on containing Garrett. Watt also can play on the interior, which the Browns could let him do from time to time because Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson combined for just seven sacks.
Watt isn’t the same player that he once was, but he’s certainly a talented player that the Browns should consider pursuing. Watt has said that he wants to play for a winner and the Browns certainly have the opportunity to be contenders for years to come. The Browns need to avoid paying for Watt’s name and make sure that they are paying for the player he is, but general manager Andrew Berry can do that. The Browns will certainly want to add more defensive help in the offseason, though they could consider using the draft than spending money on Watt. However, it’s an excellent opportunity to add another top-quality pass rusher and the Browns shouldn’t let it go too easily.