Watt will be remembered as the face of the team, having won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors and making numerous contributions to the Houston community, including raising more than $40 million in reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Harvey. However, now that he is gone, who will replace him? This season will mark the first time in history that the Baltimore Ravens do not have a single player on their roster who was drafted by them.
Watt was born on January 12, 1945 in Peekskill, New York. He was one of five children of Francis "Frank" Watt Jr. and Estelle (nee Jones) Watt. His father worked for an oil company and his mother was a homemaker; they met while working at a local high school football game. Frank Watt Sr. died when James was only nine years old. To support her family, Mrs. Watt took a job as a secretary at General Electric in Schenectady, New York. It was there that she met and married another GE employee, Charles "Jim" Callihan. The couple had two sons together before divorcing in 1962. Mrs. Callihan then moved back home with her parents where she raised her two young boys alone.
James Watt grew up in Pelham Manor, New York, a small town near the border with Albany. He had a very close-knit family who loved sports.
Watt has been named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. He has twice led the NFL in sacks and is one sack shy of his 100th career sack. But it's what Watt hasn't done yet—winning a Super Bowl—that jumps out the most to him, and the lack of a title is more noticeable this season, with the Houston Texans going 1-5. "I'm not worried about that at all," Watt said last month. "I know we're gonna be fine."
Watt's father, Johnnie, was also an athletic star at UT. He played defensive end for the Vols from 1971 to 1973 and was part of Tennessee's 1972 National Championship team. He went on to play nine seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers and was a first-team All-Pro in each of those seasons. His son has always been praised as both a player and a person, but now with his third straight year leading the league in sacks, he might just be getting recognized as one of the best to ever do it.
Johnnie Watt died in October 2016 after fighting cancer for several years. He was 56. The death of his father caused JJ to skip the last six games of the 2016 season. This past January, he missed another game due to a hamstring injury.
Despite missing so much time this season, Watt still leads the NFL in sacks with 9.5 and has helped the Texans go 5-1 in the games he has appeared in.
Watt in Response to His Request to Leave The defensive standout stated that he would like to compete for titles at the conclusion of his career. J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans' three-time defensive player of the year, was released. Watt has indicated a desire to play for a competitive club in the latter stages of his career. "I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and know that I gave it my all every single day on the field," Watt said. "I want to be able to go to bed at night knowing that I gave everything I had to give." The 26-year-old Watt is expected to receive interest from other teams but said he is not concerned about where he will land.
Watt's release comes one week after he told reporters that he wanted to continue playing beyond 2019 when his current contract expires. The star defender said he made the request during a meeting with Texans owner Bob McNair and general manager Rick Smith before the 2018 season began. "I just want to make sure I'm going into this with my eyes wide open," Watt said. "I don't want there to be any surprises when training camp starts."
The Texans drafted Watt with the second overall pick in 2012. He has been one of the best defenders in football over the past three seasons, recording 66 sacks over that time frame. However, last year was his first without a league championship since entering the NFL in 2012.
Watt averaged $16.67 million over six years on his previous six-year contract with the Texans, with $51.876 million of the whole $100 million contract worth guaranteed. As an older player, he received 74% of his new team's contract guaranteed. This works out to $41.5 million.
He was scheduled to make $15.6 million in 2017, but due to a hand injury that cost him the season opener, he got the entire $20 million dollar bonus at the start of the season. He ended up playing all 16 games for the first time in his career and had nine sacks. The extra cash plus the guarantee means that he will receive $62.5 million after taxes if he keeps going at this rate. That is easily a top 10 highest paid player in the league.
In 2018, his salary jumps to $16.5 million, which is the maximum amount a team can pay a player who started all 16 games last year. His annual salary is now at $17.5 million and his cap number has increased to $21.125 million. If Watt were to get injured again or play just five games this year, the Texans would be on the hook for another $39.5 million. That would put them over the cap even after signing John Elway today!
Watt is still only 27 years old and has yet to reach his physical potential.
Watt, unfortunately for Texans fans, sustained a season-ending injury in October that will keep him out until at least 2020. Watt was taken 30th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He earned All-American honors while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Watt's first career touchdown came on December 11, 2017, in a 24-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He scored on a 1-yard plunge in Week 16 as time expired to give the Texans a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The following week, he notched his first career sack in a 27-14 loss to the New York Jets.
In 2018, Watt led all defensive linemen with 14 sacks and had three fumble recoveries. He also had an interception that he returned 28 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 15. That same game, Houston fell behind 21-0 early in the fourth quarter before Watt helped them comeback to defeat the Titans 31-30 in overtime.
Watt's father, Jay, played in the NFL from 1989-1996, so it's no surprise that his son is following in his footsteps. What is surprising is that despite missing all of last year with a back injury, he still managed to record 14 sacks. We'll see how long he can continue this pace in 2019.