The Houston Texans have 99 problems but No. 99 ain’t one.
Defensive end J.J. Watt, a 2011 defensive rookie of the year candidate and the 2012 NFL defensive player of the year, became eligible for a new contract upon completion of the 2013 regular season. But the Texans have shown no inclination to sign him to a long-term contract.
Instead, the man who’ll make $1.9 million in 2014 will make $6.9 million in 2015 under the fifth-year option that the Texans had the right to exercise under the labor deal. While hardly chump change, the Texans arguably are treating Watt like a chump by not rewarding him now for his contributions and potential.
Meanwhile, the Texans hope that Watt — whose rookie contract pays out $11.2 million over four years — will serve as a mentor to rookie defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — who pocketed $14.5 million with the stroke of a pen despite never taking a snap in the NFL.
Watt’s case arguably is the most glaring for a league that has yet to sign any of the 2011 first-round picks to second contracts. In a year featuring plenty of holdouts, none of them have taken a stand. It will be interesting to see whether the patience demonstrated by Watt and others will run out if the offseason clock expires without new deals being given to any of the guys picked at the top of the first draft that, thanks to the rookie wage scale, paid them a lot less than they would have earned a year earlier.