Football Team

How J.J. Watt's release could pave way to Watson-Sweat trade

Football Team

The Texans released edge rusher J.J. Watt on Friday, marking the end of Watt’s tenure in Houston that included three Defensive Player of the Year awards and 101 sacks out of the 2011 first-round pick.

As the Texans navigate an offseason dominated by trade rumors surrounding franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, they now must fill a Watt-sized hole in their defensive front. Even at 31 years old, Watt still led the Texans in sacks (five), tackles for loss (14) and QB hits (17) last season. It won’t be easy replacing perhaps the best player in franchise history, but if they change their tune on Watson’s availability there’s one trade partner that could offer an enticing package.

It’s no secret the Washington Football Team needs a reboot under center after being forced to play a journeyman making just his second career start in its playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — even if that quarterback balled out and earned a new deal because of it. The Texans have maintained that they have no interest in trading Watson. Would Montez Sweat and a few draft picks be enough to change their minds?

NBC Sports Washington’s WFT Insider JP Finlay doesn’t think it can be ruled out.

“This is a long shot but it’s interesting,” Finlay said. “If Houston is still looking for defensive players in a possible trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson, would that not make Montez Sweat more of an attractive trade candidate? If Washington could come up with a package of picks — first round, second round, maybe a future first, future second — and Montez, now that they’ve lost J.J. Watt and Montez is on a rookie deal, something to consider for your weekend.”

 

Sweat, 24, led Washington with nine sacks last season and still has two years plus a team option left on the rookie deal he signed after being drafted 26th overall in 2019. With Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matthew Ioannidis, Tim Settle and Jon Bostic all returning to Washington’s defensive front in 2021, Sweat could be deemed expendable — if a player of Watson’s caliber is on the table.

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The Texans will have to be swayed; their bargaining position has been made clear. Sweat is a budding star who will be paid pennies compared to his peers for the next few years. Watson is a bonafide franchise quarterback who would instantly elevate any offense he steps into. There’s potential for a deal, but both sides have to play ball.