The Houston Texans waved goodbye to their coach and starting quarterback this offseason. They aren't about to follow suit with J.J. Watt.
Keeping the former Defensive Player of the Year in Houston long-term is a top priority for team owner Bob McNair, who told ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli this week that he wouldn't be opposed to using the franchise tag on Watt.
"You've got guys in the Hall of Fame that have been franchised in back-to-back years," said McNair. "The franchise tag is worth something to the team, and you can't be afraid to use it."
Watt is under contract through 2015 after the Texans employed the fifth-year option on their first-round pick from 2011. McNair acknowledged that a new pact for Watt won't come cheap.
"It's going to be a big contract," McNair said. "If we can do something with him that makes sense for the team to do it early, we'll certainly do it. It has to make sense for us. The team comes first. We want to keep all of our players. We want to take care of all or our players, but the team comes first."
The owner cited that "team-first" philosophy in his decision to jump out of the race for Peyton Manning two offseasons ago, arguing that Houston would have been forced to "let go of two or three of our outstanding players" to make room for the quarterback.
McNair pointed to Andre Johnson, Brian Cushing and Arian Foster as players the team "protected," before calling Watt one of those "core players."
He's more than that: Watt projects as a once-in-a-generation defensive terror who can't be paid enough. The havoc he wreaks on opposing game plans won't be patched over by a committee of linemen or anyone else the team unearths.
His eventual contract will shatter the ceiling for 3-4 defensive ends and ensure that Watt -- a one-time pizza delivery man -- eats like a king until the end of days.
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