The J.J. Watt sweepstakes are officially heating up.
For the first time in his 10-year NFL career, Watt is openly available on the free-agent market, and seemingly every team wants a piece of the elite sack artist. But Watt has already narrowed his list of destinations down to a few contenders. After a decade of mediocrity with the Houston Texans, Watt can make the best decision of his career by joining one of the NFL’s most notorious losers — the Cleveland Browns.
The Cleveland Browns have been the laughing stock of the NFL for 30 years
For nearly three decades, the Browns have been the team everyone else circles on their NFL calendars as a glorified bye week. They were the perfect team to play when your franchise was in a rut or needed a win to keep your playoff hopes alive.
Since the 1990 season, Cleveland has recorded 24 losing seasons and just four winning campaigns. During that embarrassing stretch, the Browns have gone through 30 starting quarterbacks, 16 head coaches, managed one of the two 0-16 seasons in NFL history, and only made the playoffs three times.
It’s been nearly 70 years since the Browns saw any kind of sustained success in the NFL. Cleveland won seven league championships in the span of 10 years from 1946-1955, but that was before the NFL even had a Super Bowl, and not many fans from the Browns’ heyday are still around.
But after years and years of being the laughing stock of the NFL, the Browns are finally on the rise.
The Browns have finally built themselves into a winner
For some, the Browns might still be considered a joke by NFL standards. Cleveland reached the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002, but not many fans outside the state of Ohio took the team seriously.
Well, they should now.
In their first year under head coach Kevin Stefanski, the Browns went 11-5 in the regular season and earned a playoff berth as a wild-card team. In fitting fashion, they met the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round. The same Steelers that the Browns hadn’t defeated in Pittsburgh since 2003. But these aren’t the same Browns we’ve grown to know and love. These Browns went into Heinz Field and demolished the Steelers for their first playoff win since 1995. They even gave the Kansas City Chiefs a scare in the AFC divisional round, but Cleveland fell short in the end.
Despite the playoff loss, the 2021 Browns are here to stay. Baker Mayfield is at least an above-average starting quarterback in the NFL. The franchise has finally hit big on some recent draft picks with Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb, among others. Cleveland now has one of the best offensive lines in the league, a top-tier running game, and a sturdy defense on the other side of the ball.
All the Browns need to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC is one more superstar.
J.J. Watt could make the best decision of his career by joining the Browns
Since J.J. Watt was released by the Texans last week, things have been relatively quiet from his camp. But that changed in a big way on Tuesday.
This morning, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported that Watt “is seriously considering the Browns as one of his options because they have a lot of what he wants.” Watt is attracted to the Browns because of their young stars, their ability to offer him a massive contract, and above all, their potential to win a Super Bowl.
Cleveland has $21.7 million in available cap space as of this week, so the team can offer Watt a deal that rivals his $16.7 million per year contract with the Texans.
An old-school running game behind an elite offensive line, a supremely confident quarterback who isn’t afraid to fail, and two of the most vicious quarterback hunters in the NFL in Myles Garrett and J.J. Watt surrounding opposing QBs every snap? Yes, please.
Cleveland Browns — Super Bowl contenders. Boy, does that feel weird to say?