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Houston Texans release J.J. Watt — Should the Giants be interested?

They have to at least pick up the phone, right?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL off-season has already seen some big news, and the year is already getting started. On the heels of a blockbuster quarterback trade we got one of the biggest names on the defensive side of the ball hitting the free agent market.

Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt has requested, and been granted, his release from the team. The Texans have already been in the news this year with the DeShaun Watson trade rumors, and it seems as though the franchise is heading towards a makeover.

This of course, begs the question of whether the New York Giants should be interested in Watt. As a vested veteran, Watt’s free agency begins immediately and he can sign with a team today if he decided.

In some ways this is a similar situation to Peyton Manning becoming a free agent following the 2011 season. Watt’s release instantly makes him one of the biggest names on the free agent market, and will command a suitably large contract. But in addition to his price tag, teams will also have to answer the question of age and injury. Watt will be 32 years old when the 2021 season starts and the 2020 season was his only 16-game season since 2015.

But on the other hand are his play and intangibles.

While Watt hasn’t produced like his incredible four-year run from 2012 to 2015, he still finished eighth in ESPN’s individual pass rush win rate with 22 percent — among defensive ends.

I take the time to put some emphasis on the position at which Watt was graded because though he is listed as a “defensive end,” the defensive end in a three-man front is much more of an interior defensive lineman than an EDGE player. Watt’s 22 percent pass rush win rate would have come in at second (trailing only Aaron Donald’s 24 percent win rate among interior defensive linemen.

Watt also came in at sixth among defensive ends in run stop win rate at 29 percent. No Giant, EDGE or interior lineman, made the top 10 in either list.

That Watt is still able to win his battles at a league-high rate should be enticing to a team which is starved of a natural pass rush.

Then there’s also the intangibles that Watt brings to a team and a locker room. He would instantly transform the culture of any defense which he joins. He is known for his competitiveness and his toughness is beyond question. Likewise, Watt’s work ethic is the next best thing to “legendary” you can have for an active player.

The Giants have a very young defense, and adding an experienced veteran who is a true master of his craft could only help the Giants’ young players. Adding a player like Watt would not only give the rest of the Giants’ front seven the benefit of his experience, but also add the kind of focus, drive, and competitive toughness that Tom Brady brought to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense.

Watt has been the face of the Texans’ franchise since he was drafted in 2011, and has also been one of the league’s most recognized players over that same period — both because of his play on the field and in his work around the community. He gained national acclaim for his work raising money in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey which left the entire city of Houston devastated.

So Giants’ fans, should the Giants be interested in signing J.J. Watt?

Poll

Should the Giants pursue J.J. Watt?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    YES! Get it done Getty!
    (880 votes)
  • 49%
    Ehh... Depends on the price tag
    (1413 votes)
  • 19%
    Nah. Spend the money somewhere else
    (571 votes)
2864 votes total Vote Now