The Browns will be in search for a pass rusher to go opposite Myles Garrett this offseason and when a future Hall of Fame becomes available, it makes sense for the team to explore the possibility to sign him.
JJ Watt, who the Houston Texans released on Friday after ten seasons with team who drafted him in 2011 is being sought after by “approximately” a dozen teams including the Cleveland Browns according to ESPN’s Ed Werder.
The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers are among the other teams that reportedly expressed interest in the edge rusher, who officially became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career after requesting and being granted his release by Houston.
Cleveland has approximately $21.6 million in cap space according to OverTheCap and could create more flexibility by restructuring some contracts in order to sign Watt, who was entering the final year of his contract and slated to make $17.5 million with the Texans.
It’s unclear how much he’ll command on a new deal with whomever he chooses to sign with. It is known that Watt prefers to sign with a playoff/Super Bowl contender.
In ten seasons, Watt has 101 career sacks (3rd among active players) and 172 tackles for a loss (2nd among active players) and along with Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald are the only three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winners in NFL history.
Whether it’s Watt or someone else, the Browns will be active this offseason to fill the void left opposite Garrett after Olivier Vernon will likely not return to the team after suffering a ruptured Achilles in the regular season finale against Pittsburgh. The team currently has Adrian Clayborn and Porter Gustin among their edge defenders but there is room for upgrade via free agency or the draft.