J.J. Watt is currently the apple to a number of teams' eye as he rolls through what he described as a "wild" free agent experience, following his release from the Houston Texans. Unlike most players hitting the open market, Watt is free to ink a deal with the team of his choosing prior to the start of the new league year and it appears like a number of clubs have feverishly knocked on his door armed with a bag of cash to hand him. According to Dianna Rusinni of ESPN, there are several teams that have already made an offer to Watt, and the best deal he's received so far would pay him between $15-16 million annually. Not too shabby.
This report comes off the heels of another update regarding Watt's free agency with NFL Insider John Clayton noting that the Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, and Buffalo Bills are the current front-runners to land the former Defensive Player of the Year. Teams like the Browns and Raiders are still in the Watt sweepstakes, per Clayton, but the Packers, Titians and Bills appear to be gaining an edge as his free agency moves forward.
By looking at those three teams' salary cap situations heading into the new league year, it seems unlikely that any of them were the club to push a $15-plus million offer in Watt's direction. Even if they wanted to, Green Bay still has to shed salary to get under the projected cap and both the Titans and Bills are currently projected by Spotrac to have just $2-3 million to play with. Of course, all three of these teams can likely create more wiggle room by cutting a handful of players to give themselves a bit more breathing room around the cap. However, if Watt were to simply go to the highest bidder, these teams may be out of luck.
Fortunately for them, that doesn't appear to be the case as Watt reportedly has them as the front-runners. He likely is fully aware of their cap constraints but is valuing each of them as possible contenders to potentially add a Super Bowl title to his already impressive résumé. Given the dreadful season he just endured in Houston, Watt doesn't appear like he wants to go sign with an inferior team that just so happens to be paying him the most. If he views Green Bay, Buffalo, or Tennessee -- or another team entirely -- as his best chance to win a title, the money may be a secondary factor.
Prior to his release, Watt spent his entire career with the Texans and is now about to embark on a completely new chapter with whoever he signs with. While he may not be the generational force he was during the early portions of his career, Watt is still a strong piece to add to any defensive front. In 16 games this past season, Watt totaled 52 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, five sacks and two forced fumbles along with an interception. As evidence by those big offers, Watt is still a valuable asset in the eyes of NFL decision-makers.