J.J. Watt is willing to play for the Texans again, and it actually makes a lot of sense

No team in the NFL has turned its fortunes around faster than the Texans. Fantastic drafting in 2023, paired with incredible coaching pushed Houston from being a cellar dweller into one of the best teams in the AFC. Now they’re looking to take the next step, becoming a legitimate contender — and Texans legend J.J. Watt is open to the idea of coming back if needed.

Speaking to the media at his annual charity softball game, Watt said he’s informed coach DeMeco Ryans that he’s willing to step in if needed.

Watt is pretty resolute that he only wants the Texans to break the glass and hit the button if it’s absolutely required, but nevertheless Watt has been keeping himself in playing shape. He looks like a guy who could step on the field right now and not miss a beat. It’s a good thing, because if you look at Houston’s roster there’s actually a pretty decent chance they might need Watt this year.

At first glance the Texans pass rush looks incredible. The team landed the best edge rusher in the 2023 draft in Will Anderson Jr., and solidified the position in a major way this free agency by signing Danielle Hunter from the Vikings. It gives the team two legitimate double-digit sack threats off the edge, and if the offense holds to their 2023 form it should be enough to propel Houston even further.

Here’s the problem though: When you get past Anderson Jr. and Hunter, the depth falls off a cliff. Derek Barnett only has 24 sacks in his seven year career, and is extremely inconsistent. Mario Edwards Jr., the other depth pass rusher is even worse. If either of the starters gets hurt, even for a little while, the pressure crumbles.

That’s before we talk about the need for the Texans to get some rotational pass rush assistance.

Now, it’s very clear Watt won’t come out of retirement to be a rotational piece in the puzzle — at least not yet. However, it’s worth monitoring this moving forward. Watt went out on top when he retired from the Arizona Cardinals, finishing his final NFL season with 12.5 sacks and showing he’s still as effective as ever. This means it’s worth watching if (when) the Texans reach the playoffs.

Teams are permitted to make four free agent signings during the postseason. Should Houston be poised to a deep playoff run it would absolutely benefit them to see if Watt is down to come in and close out the year, seeing how far he can push them. As it stands it doesn’t feel like the Texans are Super Bowl contenders yet, but there’s definitely a window for them to push this year.

Watt has said this will be the final year he keeps himself in NFL shape and available to make a comeback. It would be an incredible way for him to finish his story trying to help the Texans get over the hump, rather than fade into relative obscurity in Arizona.

We need this to happen.

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