HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority: An amazing sports year in Houston with more to come

Has it already been a year since Houston hosted the Super Bowl? CultureMap

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider will take you inside Houston Sports each Friday because #WeAreHoustonSports!

Has it really been 12 months? Or 12 minutes?

As you watch the mittens-and-caps-and-ice sculptures run-up to Super Bowl LII Sunday in Minneapolis, you could swear that it was really, honestly, just the other day that downtown Houston was transformed into a nine-day Super Bowl LI wonderland known as Super Bowl LIVE presented by Verizon.

There was live music, great food, the NFL experience and even a reality trip to Mars – all tucked into a footprint the size of 13 football fields in and around Discovery Green.

Yes, time flies. People are still talking about Lady Gaga’s spectacular halftime show and Tom Brady’s even more spectacular – and historic - Super Bowl comeback.

Best Super Bowl ever as Brady and his New England Patriots came from 25 points down to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime? Maybe so.

Biggest comeback, check. First overtime ever, check. A record fourth Super Bowl MVP – and a bunch of records – for Brady and the team.

Best ever? If not, it’s on a very, very short list.

It’s been a blur since then, right?

The city weathered Hurricane Harvey, then rallied around #HoustonStrong and its boys of fall – the Houston Astros – who took the city on a wild ride on the way to a seven-game World Series and their first championship. A few weeks later, the Rockets took off, and thanks to Chris Paul and James Harden, they’re looking like a team that just might make a title run of its own.

Now here we are in early February once again.

Brady is back for another Super Bowl run – this one against the Philadelphia Eagles – and everyone is wondering if he can win a record sixth title. He already shares the record of five with Charles Haley.

And Houston? It’s prepping for yet another big sports event – the inaugural Houston Sports Awards, February 8 at the Hilton Americas.

The city is still in Harvey recovery mode – and will be for years. We’ve survived a lot of ice and a little snow and sports fans are prepping for spring training and another World Series run, marveling at the Rockets and wondering if a healthy duo of J.J. Watt and DeShaun Watson will make a difference for the Texans in 2018.

But come Thursday, everyone’s attention will turn to the square block surrounding the Hilton Americas when Houston will usher in a new tradition – an eye-popping night celebrating Houston’s biggest sports stars.

The area will be transformed into a multiple-carpet, star-studded entrance for the gala and dinner. The event, a dream of Harris County - Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke for more than a decade, will draw more than 1,000 people – including most of the city’s sports royalty – to the downtown area for the sold-out event.

The night honors Houston’s legendary trio of 34s – Nolan Ryan, Earl Campbell and Hakeem Olajuwon – and there will be 10 other awards given out, seven of them with Oscar-style envelope reveals.

This is just year one, but, trust us, by the end of the night, it will leave a major impact on Houston and Houston sports.

In just two months, sports will collide when the Major League Baseball season opens and golf turns its attention to a tradition unlike any other - the  Masters in Augusta, Ga. And, of course, the NBA playoffs are taking shape.

At that point, people will think back to the night they watched those 34s come together and share an incredibly special bond with each other and the city.

Best inaugural event ever? Maybe so.

No matter what they decide, they’ll ask if it has really been two months? Or two minutes?

And they’ll wonder what’s next.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Let's make a deal. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, and the Houston Texans have a significant decision to make regarding their franchise star, J.J. Watt. The Texans are 1-6 through the first seven games of the season, and the next few years of the franchise seem a bit bleak.

No player or staff member has encapsulated Houston's frustration quite like Watt. Excluding the Texans' victory over the Jaguars, the future Hall of Famer has looked miserable in every post-game press conference. Each week, it's the constant look of despair. And in hindsight, closing the chapter on Watt's career in Houston seems to be best for both parties.

At 31-years-old, the All-Pro defensive tackle should be spending the twilight of his career competing for Super Bowls — not playing for a team who is clearly about to hit the reset button at the conclusion of this season.

By departing from Watt, it would allow the Texans to get a jumpstart on their rebuilding project — one that has the potential to bring back quality draft picks, a young prospect, and clear close to $20 million in cap space.

If they decide not to move on from Watt, the Texans risk putting themselves in a situation where they may miss out on obtaining higher draft picks and strapped for cash heading into the 2021 free agency market. And with one year left on his contract following 2020, the Texans also risk losing leverage in a potential deal if forced into trading Watt come next season.

At this stage of his career, the Texans may not receive a haul for Watt's services but could maximize his trade value by dealing him to a championship-contending team. A move that would give Watt the best chances of adding a championship title to his luxurious resume in return.

With the future of the franchise in mind, here are three potential trade ideas that would be best if the Texans are truly considering moving on from Watt.

Watt returns home to Wisconsin and joins the Packers

Texans receive: 2021 first-round pick and LB Kamal Martin

Packer receive: J.J. Watt

The Green Bay Packers are one of a handful of teams who has a realistic chance to stamp their ticket to Super Bowl LV. Following a win over the Texans on Sunday, the Packers stand first in the NFC North with a 5-1 record and possess one of the NFL's best offensive teams.

Green Bay's offense can compete in a shootout with just about any team in the league, but their defense may be the reason why they fall short of representing the NFC in Tampa Bay come February. They have only accumulated a total of 10 quarterback hits and are currently 30th in the league in pass rush through the first six games. The Packers' lack of ability to get to the opposing team's quarterback could be an immense problem during a playoff game that could feature Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

So what do the Packers have to lose by acquiring their Wisconsin native?

The addition of Watt would allow the Packers to add one of the best pass rushers of all-time. Although Watt is nowhere near the player that finished second behind Aaron Rogers for league MVP honors in 2015, he has illustrated that he is still a disruptive defensive lineman five years later.

Through the first seven games, Watt has accounted for 11 pressures, six quarterback hits and three sacks — which would make him Green Bay's second most reliable pass rusher trailing only Za'Darius Smith.

For the Texans, receiving a first-round pick for Watt is self-explanatory and would be the most suitable return for the aging star. However, for a team that is building for the future, the Texans should consider obtaining a young and raw prospect to evaluate.

Kamal Martin, a fifth-round draft selection in 2020, made his NFL debut against the Texans on Sunday and left an exceptional first impression. He recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss in 29 snaps inside NRG Stadium, and could be a building block should the Texans begin to make modifications to their linebacking corps.

Seattle sends multiple draft picks for Watt

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and fourth-round pick

Seahawks receive: J.J. Watt

If the Packers do not take advantage of improving their pass rush with Watt — perhaps the Seattle Seahawks will. Both NFC teams mirror each other with a high-powered offense, but a feeble defense may hinder one another from advancing to the Super Bowl. In a deal for Watt to the Seahawks, the Texans would miss out on the chance to acquire a first-rounder, but obtaining multiple picks would be just as prominent.

Seattle's general manager John Schneider is no stranger to taking a significant risk, and appears willing to make any moves that will put his organization closer to their long-overdue second title with Russell Wilson. Perhaps, Watt would be that missing key.

The Seahawks are pretty solid at stopping the run but need a tremendous upgrade in their pass defense. Seattle has given up the second-most passing yards on the season (2,212), and the reason seems to be their inability to get to the quarterback. Seattle has only implemented pressure to the opposing team's quarterback on 20.1% of their dropbacks, while only recording a total of nine sacks.

The Seahawks pass defense may not become elite, but the disruption of Watt on their defensive line could be enough to limit the devastation they have experienced through the first seven weeks of the season.

Watt to the Big Easy for Brees' last dance

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and Marcus Davenport

Saints receive: J.J. Watt

Seven weeks into the season, the New Orleans Saints are not sitting near the top of the NFC nor their division when compared to recent years. A bevy of injuries have been attributed to their minor decline this season — mainly to their All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

However, the Saints have prevailed through the injury bug to march their way to a 4-2 record. If New Orleans can get healthy during the second half of the season, they will be in the running to represent the NFC in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV. But unlike the Packers and Seahawks, this could be the Saints last chance to recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy in what is likely Drew Brees' last dance.

The addition of Watt to the Saints would give general manager Mickey Loomis a chance to create the most disruptive defensive line in the league. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would be able to shift the five-time Pro-Bowler to the interior — allowing the Saints to trot out a d-line of Watt, Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson.

This trade would give Watt arguably the most help he has ever had on the defensive line — which would allow New Orleans to maximize what is left of his career.

This trade would have the Texans missing out on obtaining a first-rounder, but a sound-round pick would be just as valuable for Watt. However, Houston should consider adding a young prospect in a potential swap, and Marcus Davenport would be their best return.

Drafted in 2018, Davenport is a former first-round talent who can help transition the Texans into the post-Watt era. He has showed promise of a bright future through his first two seasons, but injuries have prevented the 24-year-old prodigy of San Antonio from establishing himself as one of the league's top young talents.

This season, elbow and toe injuries have limited Davenport to just a pair of games in 2020. Although there is an immense concern regarding Davenport's health, the Texans cannot pass on adding a player who has already registered 11.5 sacks and 31 quarterback hits through his first 28 career games.

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.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome