Veteran NFL reporter John Clayton believes the Green Bay Packers are one of the favorites to sign free agent defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
Clayton ruled out the Pittsburgh Steelers as a realistic landing spot and identified the Packers, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to get Watt, with the Las Vegas Raiders as another potential option.
“I think it’s going to be Tennessee, Buffalo or Green Bay, probably more Tennessee or Green Bay. Outside chance at the Raiders,” Clayton said on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Watt is expected to sign with a contender, and all three teams listed as favorites were playoff teams in 2020. The Packers and Bills both advanced to their conference title games but came up just short of making the Super Bowl.
The Steelers have been a popular potential landing spot for Watt, who could join brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh. Clayton said it doesn’t work financially.
Money could be an issue for Watt and the Packers, a team still $12 million or so over the projected salary cap floor in 2021, but general manager Brian Gutekunst has plenty of ways to clear enough space to get a competitive offer to Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Clayton believes an older player like Watt could struggle to get $10 million per year on his next deal.
“I’m so anxious to see what he ends up getting,” Clayton said.
Clayton’s opinion matches what Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated has heard about Watt’s market. According to Huber, Watt hasn’t received the offers he was expecting.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Watt is starting to narrow down his choices of teams but nothing in terms of a signing is imminent.
Nothing is imminent with free agent J.J. Watt, who is in the process of narrowing his options for a new team, I’m told. But he is making progress in that area. Plenty of teams have gotten involved.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 24, 2021
If signed, Watt would provide a talented and disruptive force for the front of the Packers defense. On the field, he would provide value as both an edge run defender and interior pass-rusher. A widely respected veteran with a long list of individual accomplishments, Watt would also provide a leader with Aaron Rodgers-like clout for the Packers defense.