By John Turney
From 2011 through 2015 JJ Watt was unstoppable and seemingly indestructible. His production as a 3-4 end and a sometimes tackle in nickel and sometimes end in nickel he put up unprecedented numbers in sacks and tackles for loss (stuffs).
In those five seasons he averaged 74 tackles, 15 sacks, 15 stuffs, 9 passes defenses, three forced fumbles, 2.4 fumbles recovered. He also was All-Pro four times, and Pro Bowler four times and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, five times he was an AFC Defensive Player of the Month, and six times he was an AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Then game 2016. And 2017. He recovered in 2018 and then was injured again in 2019. This year he's on pace for eight sacks and perhaps 3 stuffs. Not the kind of production we've come to expect from Watt.
Even when average on a per 16 game basis (taking out the games misses) his averages per season in the last five seasons are 53 tackles, 10 sacks, 2.6 stuffs, 2.4 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles, .8 fumbles recovered. Those numbers, actually, are good. Coaches would love to have a defensive lineman who averaged over 50 tackles and 10 sacks and two forced fumbles a season. But the issue is the 32 games he missed over those seasons.
Here are his career seasons—
Still, Watt is two tackles short of 500 and one sack short of 100. He's going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The question is he, in 2020, an elite defensive lineman, even if he's not the JJ Watt of 2012-15?
So far? No. The team struggled and had a change in head coaches and in all likelyhood will have another new coach in 2021.
A quick Internet search will show there are rumors of trades involving Watt. If there is truth to them is anyone's guess.
Watt wants a ring. The Texans are building. Watt would bring some kind of return, though not a high pick anymore he could bring a couple of mid-round picks. It is without doubt Watt is productive enough to help numerous teams. Even a 75% Watt is better than most defensive linemen in the NFL and then you add the "recharge" factor, that intangible that often accompanies a player when he's traded (anecdotal, yes, but we have seen it happen over decades of following the NFL) and he would be a big help to any contender that picked him up in our view.