The Houston Texans have finally decided to allow their alienated franchise cornerstone player, the man who gave them multiple great seasons while earning the universal love of the entire city, to find a new team. No, not that alienated franchise cornerstone player, he’s still there. No, not the other one, he’s in Arizona now. The other other one!
JJ Watt confirmed the news himself in a video posted to his Twitter account, in which he also made it clear that he personally requested his release from the Texans, and that the organization obliged.
You could spend your entire morning unleashing a very pointed “Hmmmmmmmmm!” over the fact that the Texans were so quick to do right by Watt while remaining steadfast in their refusal to trade Deshaun Watson, but as is usually the case this decision is less about loyalty and respect than it is bloodless roster calculations.
Watt was headed into the final year of his contract with the Texans, and by releasing him now Houston can shave $17.5 million off their cap hit for 2021. Given that Watt is 31 years old and just finished playing only his second full season since 2016, the Texans deemed saving all that money as a fair trade for losing Watt’s services.
But do not allow Watt’s age and declining production—he only managed five sacks this past season—to allow you to trick yourself into believing that the Texans have made a smart move here while also honoring Watt. All they’ve managed to do is add more humiliation to what is already one of the most humiliating offseasons in NFL history, and things can only get worse from here.
As for what this development means for Watson’s future, the answer is probably not much. The Texans don’t appear to be any more eager to acquiesce to his trade demand than they were when he first made it, and that means Watson may eventually be forced to sit out the season rather than suit up for an organization that has gotten rid of every good teammate he’s ever had. If he were just a little bit older and a little bit worse, he’d might be free right now.