The Houston Texans signed Deshaun Watson to a historic four-year, $160 million contract extension this past weekend. Watson will receive an average of $39 million per year over the next four years, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL during that time.
This is great for Watson, of course, but what about the Texans? Can they still field a competitive team around him and win now? Especially after trading DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona?
Maurice Jones-Drew says yes.
“I truly believe that they didn’t let go of DeAndre Hopkins because of [needing to pay] Deshaun Watson,” the NFL Network analyst said on Tiki & Tierney. “They let him go because of their left tackle they had to pay. They had to start protecting Deshaun Watson. He was getting hit all around the yard. This dude had to take an RV or a bus to Jacksonville from Houston [in 2018]. He couldn’t fly with the team because he was so banged up. That became an issue. So we have to now protect our quarterback and pay our quarterback."
The Texans have made the playoffs in six of the last nine seasons, including two straight. They have never advanced past the divisional round.
“I think they have enough pieces around [Watson] with the David Johnsons and Brandin Cooks and Will Fullers and Randall Cobbs and your two tight ends – you have enough pieces around there to go make it work,” Jones-Drew said. “It’s now on this defense and J.J. Watt to step up and play like he played earlier in his career.”
Watt, 31, is a five-time first-team All Pro and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. However, he has missed 32 games over the last four seasons.
“He’s been banged up a little bit,” Jones-Drew said. “He hasn’t really been the same guy. You need to get that out of him as well. If he can affect the quarterback, it’ll help Whitney Mercilus; it’ll help Zach Cunningham, who’s going to be covering those running backs and tight ends; it’ll help the secondary as well.
“So it’s going to be more on the defense than it will be on Deshaun Watson,” Jones-Drew continued. “He’s going to score points. I mean, they were up 24-0 against the Kansas City Chiefs. If you have defense, that should be more than enough in the NFL to win – and that became an issue.”
The Texans open this season where they ended last season: against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Thursday's kickoff is slated for 8:20 p.m. ET.