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Will Rams and J.J. Watt have mutual interest?

With Matthew Stafford on board, other veterans might want to come to LA

Los Angeles Rams v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

On Friday, the Houston Texans and defensive end J.J. Watt both announced that they’ve agreed to part ways after 10 seasons together. Watt tweeted a video to Texans fans on Friday, saying that he asked the Texans for his release and they granted it to him. Clearly, the team sees Deshaun Watson as a necessary part of their long-term future but they were more understanding for Watt, who will be turning 32 in March and may not have many years left to try and win a championship.

Would Watt and the LA Rams be a natural fit for each other?

  1. J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald are two of only three players in history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times. They’ve won the award in six of the last nine years. Pairing Donald and Watt on the same defensive line would be — and I hate to even use this word if not for its accuracy in this case — legendary. Donald was the most double-teamed player in the league, obviously, so Watt’s presence could change a lot.
  2. Watt shouldn’t necessarily go to a team where he’d be the star pass rusher. He had five sacks in 16 games last season (it was also harder for him to get sack opportunities in Houston than he would have for a good team) and his body has only allowed him to be dominant in one of the last five years. Watt’s presence would help Donald and Donald’s presence would certainly help Watt.
  3. New defensive coordinator Raheem Morris isn’t expected to make huge changes to the defense and isn’t expected to change it to a 4-3 base. I see no reason why Donald and Watt can’t play on the field together.
  4. The acquisition of Matthew Stafford sent a signal to veterans that the Rams would be a Super Bowl-focused destination. There’s only one thing a player like Watt is looking for at this stage of his career and it is not money. We know that Marvin Jones is rumored to be one such player, but could Watt be texting next?
  5. Releasing Michael Brockers would save between $4.6 and $6.5 million, depending on when the team does it. But as logjammed as it would feel, the team doesn’t necessarily need to make a corresponding move. If Watt isn’t looking for a lot of money, then he could essentially be Morgan Fox’s replacement.
  6. It has been rumored that veterans have been hitting up Stafford, saying they want to come to LA to win a Super Bowl. When Watt ranted late in the season about why teams should never tank, Kelly Stafford (Matthew’s wife) praised him for it on Instagram.

Kelly Stafford seemed to hint that her husband was also sick of losing. Stafford forced his way out of Detroit and asked for a mutual separation and got it. Watt did the exact same thing except he may not have had a strong trade market and he may have asked to not be traded. It would make sense for them to maybe want to go to the same place.

7. Where else would Watt go? He could ask to play with his brother on the Pittsburgh Steelers but do they seem like the favorites in the AFC North given Ben Roethlisberger’s age and the potential for the Browns and Ravens to be Super Bowl contenders in a year? Ravens are involved in the same logjam — though I can’t ignore that the NFC West might be the toughest division in the league.

He could ask about the Chiefs, but he wouldn’t fit in as well on the defense.

I’ve seen the Bills mentioned too. I’ll just say that I think Tom Brady chose the Bucs in part because the NFC is going to be a lot easier to navigate next season than the AFC. Watt is leaving a team that had to compete with two playoff teams in the division; if he goes to the Chargers, he has to try to defeat Patrick Mahomes; if he goes to the AFC North, he has to compete with three playoff teams and Joe Burrow; if he goes to Buffalo, he’s got Bill Belichick on one team and a 10-6 Dolphins team, then in the playoffs: Mahomes or Tannehill or Mayfield or Jackson or Herbert or Roethlisberger or (other) perhaps.

The NFC West is a tough division but it is in the easier conference. A conference that may get easier if Drew Brees retires.

Same with the Seahawks, who could be shaping up as the third-best team in the NFC West amid a public spat with their franchise quarterback.

He might be a year too late to the party in Tampa Bay and the Bucs are also not as good of a natural fit as the Rams would be. He could choose the 49ers, if he’s okay picking a team that went 6-10 last season and has posted a losing record in three of Kyle Shanahan’s four campaigns.

He could consider going back to Wisconsin to play for the Packers. If he’s okay with being on an average defense instead of a great one. Green Bay has Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith among their front-seven and they have Aaron Rodgers and a good shot at the Super Bowl. The Rams have 90 degree weather in December.

There are a number of places that make sense, but I don’t think any place makes as much sense as Los Angeles.

8. Stafford and Watt won offensive and defensive MVP honors at the 2015 Pro Bowl, so there ya go.


Should the Rams sign J.J. Watt?

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