Once a cheesehead, always a cheesehead. With the Texans recently granting J.J. Watt his release from the franchise after a decade in Houston, NFL contenders are seemingly wasting no time in trying to lure the star pass rusher to their club. Watt reportedly has around a dozen teams vying for his services and one more of them has now been revealed. According to Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated, the Green Bay Packers are among the many that have expressed interest in inking Watt to a deal.
While noteworthy, Green Bay’s interest is hardly a surprise. They are a team on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth — having reached the NFC Championship over the past two seasons — and could use a talent like Watt along their front seven to push them over the top. It also doesn’t hurt that Watt has tremendous ties to the organization, being a Pewaukee, Wisconsin native who was a standout at the University of Wisconsin. Given that the Packers are his boyhood team and are a legit contender in the NFC, it seems only logical that the interest is mutual.
Even if there is interest from both sides, however, the money could end up being the major roadblock. The Packers were able to clear around $8.3 million in cap space thanks to left tackle David Bakhtiari restructuring his contract, but the club still needs to make a few more moves to even get under whatever the final number of the salary cap ends up being for this year. Watt is no spring chicken — he turns 32 next month — but should still command a decent contract by a number of clubs that are in contention. If that proves to be the case, Green Bay could find itself priced out of the Watt sweepstakes outside of a significant hometown discount.
Unlike most free agents this offseason, Watt does not need to wait until the start of the new league year in mid-March to officially join a club. As soon as he is able and willing, he can put pen to paper on the deal, which means this free-agent tour could end sooner than most.
Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, totaled 52 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, five tacks and two forced fumbles along with an interception in 16 games played with the Texans last season. While he may not be the 20-plus sack player he was at the beginning of his career, he’s clearly still a lethal piece that would be a welcome addition to the Packers — or anyone else’s — front-seven in 2021.