NFL legend J.J. Watt is moving on from the Houston Texans, and a team that is a serious option for the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year to sign with is the Cleveland Browns. While that seems almost like a perfect fit for both Watt and the Browns, one ESPN analyst has been pretty critical of it — Stephen A. Smith. In fact, he even said that if Watt were to go to the Browns that it would be an “act of betrayal.”
J.J. Watt and the Browns reportedly have mutual interest
For the first time in his career, J.J. Watt is not a Houston Texan. Watt had an incredible career with the Texans, too, as he led the NFL in sacks twice and recorded 20.5 sacks in two different seasons. He also recorded 16 sacks or more four times with the Texans, which helped him earn five Pro Bowl and five First-Team All-Pro selections. He also won three Defensive Player of the Year awards.
However, after the Texans had a terrible 2020 season, the team and Watt mutually agreed to part ways.
Then, almost immediately after the news broke of Watt’s release, the Cleveland Browns were reported as a team interested in Watt. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com then reported earlier this week that, according to sources, Watt is seriously considering the Browns as a team to sign with this offseason.
While this could be a really good fit for Watt, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith is not too thrilled about this possibility.
Stephen A. Smith said J.J. Watt to the Browns would be an ‘act of betrayal’
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith appeared on his show, First Take, on Feb. 17, and he discussed the possibility of J.J. Watt going to the Browns.
“If J.J. Watt were to go to the Cleveland Browns, it is an act of betrayal to his family,” Smith said. “To T.J. and Derek; it would be betrayal. … To go to the Cleveland Browns when you have an opportunity to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers; it would be blasphemous; it would be sacrilegious, and an absolute act of betrayal the likes of which momma Watt should get involved and chastise her son.”
“It would mess up Thanksgivings; it would mess up Christmases; it would mess up all of that stuff,” Smith said. “… The same division with a team that can compete for the Super Bowl; that wants you, has a spot for you, and not only do you choose not to join your brothers, you would go against them by wearing a Cleveland Browns uniform? You would rather be playing off of Lake Erie instead of Three Rivers, Heinz Field? Are you kidding me? It would be an act of betrayal.”
While Smith makes some solid and funny points, the Browns seem to be a team on the rise. The Steelers, on the other hand, who play in the AFC North with the Browns, seem to be going in the opposite direction. Cleveland would just be a much better option for Watt than Pittsburgh.
J.J. Watt could help lead the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl
The Cleveland Browns proved in 2020 that they should be taken seriously. They went 11-5 and won a playoff game against the Steelers. They then almost defeated the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
What made the Browns so successful in 2020 was their running game that featured Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. However, Watt could really help the Browns’ defense. While it played OK at times, the Browns dealt with multiple players having to miss games throughout the season. So, a healthy Browns defense may actually be pretty good, but Watt could help make it excellent. He would also be playing with another great pass rusher in First-Team All-Pro Myles Garrett, which would be terrifying for opposing quarterbacks.
The Cleveland Browns are a nice playoff team right now. With J.J. Watt, though, they could easily give the Chiefs a run for their money and potentially compete for a Super Bowl.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference