Titans general manager Jon Robinson has confirmed recent reports of the Titans' interest in Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Watt spent four years working with Titans head coach Mike Vrabel in Houston while Vrabel served as the Texans' linebackers coach before becoming the team's defensive coordinator in 2017.
"We've had some contact," Robinson said, via Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official website. "It's early. We know his skill-set and what he has meant to the Texans. We'll see where it goes."
Robinson, a former college defensive lineman who served as the Patriots' director of college scouting from 2009-13, does have prior experience with Watt.
"He probably won't remember this, but I worked him out when I was with the Patriots," Robinson said, via NFL Network's Michael Giradi. "He pushed me around for two hours."
Watt then proceeded to push around offensive linemen for the next 10 years as a member of the Texans. The 11th-overall pick in the 2011 draft, Watt leaves Houston as a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, five-time All-Pro and member of the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team. Watt's play helped the Texans -- a franchise that had no postseason appearances before his arrival -- win six division titles over the past decade.
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While his sack numbers were down in 2020, Watt was a significant presence in pass defense. His seven pass breakups were his highest total since 2014. He also recorded the second pick-six of his career during Houston's Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions. Watt also forced two fumbles along with his five sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He managed to play in each of the Texans' 16 games after missing half of the 2019 season with a torn pectoral.
The Titans are one of a dozen teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Watt. The Browns, one of the reported teams, are receiving consideration from Watt, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Watt reportedly wants to play for a team that has a chance of winning a Super Bowl. He also wants to be part of a franchise that has a strong culture. And while he is not looking to break the bank, Watt does want to be paid his market value; he was slated to receive $17.5 million with the Texans in 2021.
Tennessee checks just about all of the boxes on Watt's wish list. The Titans finished one game short of the Super Bowl in 2019. Last season, Tennessee captured the AFC South division title before losing to the Ravens in the wild-card round. The Titans' offense received another strong season from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. They also enjoyed another banner season from running back Derrick Henry, who became the eighth player in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing barrier in 2020.
While the offense finished fourth in the NFL in scoring last season, the Titans' defense was just 24th in the league in scoring, 29th in passing, 32nd in third down efficiency and 30th in red zone efficiency. The lack of a pass rush largely contributed to Tennessee's defensive woes. The Titans 19 sacks last season were tied for the 28th-lowest total in the NFL. In their most recent mock drafts, CBS Sports NFL Draft analysts Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso have the Titans selecting Miami pass rusher Gregory Rousseau with the 22nd-overall pick.