Many observers would agree that Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL, and now he is getting paid like it. According to multiple reports, Watt and the Texans have agreed on a 6-year, $100 million contract that includes $51.8 million guaranteed. Both the guaranteed money and the $16.6 million average annual value are the highest figures in NFL history for a defensive player.
Despite the massive contract, the Texans have to feel great about this extension. Since being drafted 11th overall in 2011, Watt has turned into an absolutely dominant force on the defensive line, recording 36.5 sacks, 27 pass deflections and 8 forced fumbles. He has made three All-Pro teams (two first, one second), two Pro Bowls, and won the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. Watt is also just 25 years old and has yet to miss a game in his career, and there is no reason to think that he will do anything other than continue to be among the best defensive players in football for the better part of the next decade.
Watt is absolutely irreplaceable to the Texans, and giving him this amount of money is a no-brainer for them. Watt is an equally dominant force against the run and the pass, and the Texans base everything they do defensively off his presence. The attention an offense must give Watt creates pass rushing and run stopping opportunities for other front seven players, while defensive backs often don’t have to cover as long because of the pressure he creates. Additionally, offenses are forced to scheme their run plays away from Watt, as he is essentially a one man wrecking crew against the run.
Describing Watt as the best player in the NFL, a truly unique talent, and a player on track for the Hall of Fame is not hyperbole. Every traditional and advanced measurement available points to the fact that Watt is the best defensive player in the NFL and a historically disruptive talent on the defensive line. For the Texans, the question was much more simple: why wouldn’t you pay $100 million for that? They made the right move to lock up Watt to a big money extension, and it will be worth every penny.