J.J. Watt has become the highest paid defensive player in the league after the Houston Texans gave him a six-year extension worth $100 million. The former Wisconsin Badger has two years left on his current rookie contract, but the team wanted to reward him early for his incredible play in his first three years in the league. The deal will not kick in until the 2016 season and will include $51.8 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus.
After being the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, J.J. Watt has taken the league by storm, arguably becoming the league’s best defensive player. In his short three years, he has played in every game for the Houston Texans and been a two-time All-Pro. In 2012, he was named Defensive Player of the Year and missed Michael Strahan’s single season sack record by only two with a total of 20.5. During the 2013 season, his sack production dropped to 10.5 as he drew more and more double teams, as other teams learned how disruptive he can be.
The Texans have a policy that they do not negotiate contracts during the season, so for them, it was crucial that this deal got done before their first game against Washington. He will now be the highest paid defensive player in the league, eclipsing former Texan Mario Williams’ $96 million deal signed with the Buffalo Bills. Locking down a player of Watt’s caliber is a huge win for any team, and now the Texans can focus on surrounding him with talent, beginning with the 2014 draft after the team took Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is one of the most anticipated defensive prospects in NFL history, and a tandem of him and Watt together should terrorize opposing offenses for years to come.
J.J. Watt’s production in the NFL in his first three years has been extremely impressive, and even more impressive is that he is doing it in a 3-4 style defense. Most defensive ends who get a lot of sacks usually play in a 4-3 system, meaning they are the furthest outside rushers and therefore get more one on one opportunities with the tackles than defensive tackles and 3-4 defensive ends. This means they are less susceptible to getting double-teamed, especially in passing situations. This is not the case for Watt. He plays in a 3-4 system, which means his job is to survey the play and decide whether he needs to find the ball carrier, rush the passer, or occupy blockers so the linebackers around him can make plays. The system he plays in does not lend his position to creating the type of sack numbers he has put up, making his play even more impressive.
Now that Watt will get the chance to play opposite of Clowney, his production should be even more improved. If the 2014 first overall pick can live up to his potential, Houston could have one of the most terrifying defenses in all of football. No teams will be capable of double-teaming both of these incredible pass rushers, and that will greatly benefit each of them and their sack numbers. Having such a great pass rush will only help the rest of the defense as well. They will not have to worry as much about blitzing linebackers, because the defensive line will create such a good rush on the opposing quarterbacks.
The Houston Texans and J.J. Watt have agreed on a six-year contract extension that will make him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. The $100 million deal will include $51.8 million in guaranteed money and a $10 million dollar signing bonus. With their defensive star now locked up for the long-term, Houston can look to their first regular season game against Washington.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius