It was widely presumed toward the end of their disastrous 2020 season that the Houston Texans would look to pull off a J.J. Watt trade. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has regressed in recent seasons. Houston is headed for a full-scale rebuild, especially if the Texans are forced to trade Deshaun Watson.
That’s why it was a surprise last week when Houston outright released the future first ballot Hall of Famer rather than pull off a trade and acquire needed draft assets.
Embattled owner Cal McNair attempted to explain the Texans’ decision. To say that it is the latest example of this organization falling flat on its face would be an understatement.
“There are several reasons (for not trading J.J. Watt. But suffice it to say, we evaluated those, and we’re confident that this is the right one for J.J. and for us,” McNair said, via MMQB’s Albert Breer. “And it’s one we mutually came to and agreed on. And we felt that it was really the right one for J.J. Not every decision is easy or easy to understand. But we always want to do right by our players and our fans. And we want to focus on bringing a championship to Houston.”
On one hand, giving Watt the pick of his litter when it comes to a new NFL city did paint the Texans in a good light after the drama we’ve seen from the organization and former players.
On the other hand (and this is is the point of the article), Houston could have still traded Watt to a team of his choosing while recouping draft-pick assets.
Following the 2012 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers let Alex Smith give them a list a few teams to which he would like to be traded after Colin Kaepernick won the starting job. In the end, Smith was dealt to his preferred destination -- Kansas City -- for two second-round picks.
Doing right by a franchise player and attempting to build up a weak roster are not mutually exclusive. McNair and The Texans failed big-time in this regard.
A number of teams were interested in a Watt trade. Heck, McNair went on record recently indicating that Houston had taken some calls.
For good reason. Despite some injury issues, the future Hall of Famer is just two years removed from recording 25 quarterback hits, 18 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and a resounding seven forced fumbles. He’d have been of interest to several contending teams.
Instead, a Houston Texans team that is reeling after Deshaun Watson’s trade request and doesn’t boast a pick in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft opted to give Watt up for nothing. In the process, he could even sign with a division rival.
This is yet another example of the Texans’ organization failing its fan base on a near never-ending loop. It’s pretty gross.