As the video on this link shows, JJ Watt is a nigh on unstoppable monster at defensive end. His comments to the press that he has “outgrown” his rookie contract could be the start of long and protracted contract negotiations. The Texans however, must not let it happen. They should sign up their star player on improved terms as soon as possible.
Watt has been a bargain
Watt is comfortably the best player on the Texans team. He is probably even the best defensive player in the NFL. For the last three years having JJ Watt on the roster has
been nothing but upside for the Texans and they have got him at a ridiculous bargain.
In Watt's 20.5 sack 2012 season he earned under $900,000 whilst last season Watt's base salary awarded him only $1,396,590.
Entering his fourth year in the NFL, Watts' rookie contract is set to expire in 2016. That may be two years away and the Texans can always franchise tag Watt for another
season, but the Texans cannot afford to let things drag on for too long. Especially since they don't negotiate contract once the regular season has started.
What would Watt's deal look like?
Fortunately, we aren't in the dark over what Watt's contract would look like. Recently a number of Watt's peers from the 2011 draft have signed their first post-rookie contracts.
Arizona wide receiver Patrick Peterson who was taken as the fifth pick of the 2011 draft has just signed a new $70 million contract but he isn't as important to the Cardinals
are Watts is to the Texans. More crucially, he isn't as good a football player.
A more realistic comparison for Watt is with other defensive line stars like Chris Long, Ndamukong Suh, Haloti Ngata, and Charles Johnson. These guys are all earning around $12,000,000 in 2014.
Pound for pound though Watt is better than all these guys It is realistic to expect that the Texans would have to make Watts the best paid defensive line player in the NFL.
Therefore the deal for Watts would conservatively be at least five years $60 million with $25 million guaranteed. The chances are though that it could be much higher.
This isn't a question of whether Watt deserves to be paid likes his peers. The question is whether the Texans should do so right now by renegotiating his contract. After all with the franchise tag option Watts could be tied to Houston for the next three season.
Focusing on the time left on Watt's contract however misses the point. Signing Watt up makes sense for the Texans both financially and as a football team.
Let's deal with the on the pitch situation first. The future of the Texans franchise is clearly based around Watts and the hard as nails defense that he would be the cornerstone of.
With the first round pick this year the Texans overlooked grabbing a franchise left tackle or a proper NFL quarterback and instead took Jadeveon Clowney to give the Texans
potentially the best pass rush in the division.
For the Texans to keep developing and for their defense to achieve its potential then they need a happy and content Watt not a player that is annoyed over his “light” paycheck.
Financially a deal for Watt also makes a lot of sense as his value is only going to rise. Tampa Bay have opened contract talks with star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and the the Lions have agreed to allow Suh to test the free agency market at the end of the season. When Suh hits free agency his contract is going to be astronomical.
More than this though is the salary cap situation. The cap rose to $133 million this year. That was an increase of 8.1%. It is all but certain to rise by a bigger percentage in 2015 as the NFL's fresh TV money kicks in and the league's profits surge.
By next season then Watt's agent knows that the Texans will have lots more cap space to play with he will also know that Suh is about to get a massive pay raise.
The Texans need to get Watt signed up ASAP. Delay neither saves them money or helps them on the field.