LOOKING AHEAD

Here's why J.J. Watt's future with the Houston Texans remains uncertain

Watt can't wait on a rebuild. Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images.

A few weeks ago, it appeared as if J.J. Watt had played his last game as a member of the Houston Texans. They had just suffered a 35-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, resulting in the Texans falling to 1-6 on the season. With the trade deadline looming, a disgruntled Watt walked off the field inside NRG Stadium. The consensus around the league believed that the future Hall of Famer would be one of several players rumored to be on the move in a potential fire sale.

However, the Texans stood pat. Not only did Houston not trade their franchise star, but refused to explore the market by defining Watt as one of their four untouchable players.

Watt, arguably the greatest player in franchise history, will finish his ninth season playing on a team that appears to be heading straight towards a rebuild at the conclusion of the year. It's a path the 31-year-old defensive end says he has no interest in being a part of during the twilight of his career.

"I don't think it's any secret that I don't have 10 years left in this league," Watt said during his virtual press conference on Wednesday. "I personally believe that I do have a few more great ones left in me. But, you also can't — I'm not looking to rebuild. I'm looking to go after a championship and that's what I want to do. Whatever is in the best interest of the Houston Texans, that's in the best interest of myself. But, like I said, I'm interested in winning a championship in this league. That's every player's goal."

Watt has stated an infinite amount of times that bringing a Super Bowl title to Houston remains his ultimate goal. Deshaun Watson echoed the same objective nearly 20 minutes later via Zoom, but the Texans are far from title contention.

In a season that began with a four-game losing streak and the jettison of Bill O'Brien, the Texans will watch the 2020 post-season unfold from the comfort of their homes — more likely than not. With little draft capital and money extremely scarce, it is going to be a daunting task for Houston to address their lack of talent ahead of the 2021 season.

In reality, it may take the Texans two years to get back to playoff contention and another before they can reestablish themselves as Super Bowl contenders. That's an additional three more seasons wasted for Watt — who would be 34-years-old and on the brink of retirement.

Although the Texans retained his services past this year's trade deadline, the idea of Watt finishing his career draped in another team's jersey is still a high possibility. He has one year left on his current contract, and it is hard to imagine Watt still playing for the Texans beyond the 2021 season — especially if Houston has not made any improvements to their team.

A pending free-agency and a distressed star could alas be the formula for a significant breakup between Watt and the Texans as early as next spring.

"We've won some division championships and that's great, but that's not the goal. If your goal is not to win the Super Bowl and your goal is not to do everything in your power to make that happen and make your organization in the best possible situation for that, then that's not going to happen. So, that is my goal. That's why I fought back from all these injuries because that's the goal, and that's what I'm still working towards." — Watt.

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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