February 16, 2021
NFL Rumors: J.J. Watt Could See Browns As Top Destination For Next Season

J.J. Watt could have his eyes on Cleveland as his next destination, a new report suggests.

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is now a free agent after asking the Houston Texans for his release, and there have been a number of teams identified as potential landing spots. As Cleveland.com reported, the Browns could be one of the frontrunners as the club has a lot of what Watt is looking for -- namely a team that can immediately contend for a Super Bowl and enough money to pay him what he wants.

The report noted that the pass rusher is seeking something close to the $17.5 million he was already due in 2021, a price that the Browns were willing to pay last offseason for Jadeveon Clowney. The cash flexibility could put the Browns in a class above other potential suitors, the outlet reported.

"Many of the teams interested in Watt are cap-strapped and won't be able to pull it off," the outlet explained. "The Steelers, who already have Watt's two brothers T.J. and Derek Watt on their roster, are currently about $30 million over the cap. Ben Roethlisberger has said he'll restructure his contract to bring down his $41.5 million cap hit for 2021, but they'd likely have to make other moves to make it happen."

There have been some other teams pegged as strong contenders to sign Watt, including the Buffalo Bills. Like the Browns, the Bills are a rising contender after having reached the AFC Championship game last season and could afford close to Watt's preferred salary with some cap movements.

But competition is expected to be high for Watt, despite his age and recent difficulties with injuries. As the New York Post noted, a number of players around the league are doing some recruiting work, including former teammate DeAndre Hopkins. Now with the Arizona Cardinals, Hopkins shared some images on Instagram showing him with Watt during their time together in Houston. Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has gotten in on the recruiting as well, the publication added. Replying to the message from Hopkins, Smith-Schuster implored him to come to Pittsburgh so he could play with his younger brothers.

A pair of Buffalo Bills put in their pitch as well, with All-Pro wideout Stefon Diggs taking to social media and asking him to think about moving to the Bills. Legendary receiver Andre Reed later re-shared the post with a message about the benefits of playing in Buffalo.