J.J. Watt eyes long-term contract

Updated: August 19, 2014, 7:22 PM ET
By Tania Ganguli | ESPN.com

DENVER -- Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt doesn't see any reason to get involved with his contract negotiations right now. But he does hope the Texans will reward him as several other teams have their 2011 draft picks.

"With the new CBA, I think one of the goals was to make guys earn their pay," Watt said. "No more big paydays up front. Make guys go out there and play, show that they've earned it.

"So I think when a team gives a big contract after the third year, they're saying, 'Listen, we think you've earned this.' I don't know if [the Texans] feel that way or not, but I sure hope I've put in all the work, and I've put in everything I can do to hopefully earn it."

Watt, who first expressed his hope that he had earned a new contract to Yahoo! Sports, was the 11th selection in the 2011 draft. In May, the Texans picked up a fifth-year option on his contract that locks him in at a salary of $6.969 million for the 2015 season -- the final year of his rookie deal.

Earlier in August, Texans owner Bob McNair told ESPN.com that the team would do a deal with Watt "early" if it made sense for the team. McNair, though, said the team cannot be afraid to use the franchise tag on Watt after the 2015 season -- twice if necessary.

[+] EnlargeJ.J. Watt
AP Images/Patric SchneiderJ.J. Watt hopes that the Texans reward him with a long-term contract -- in similar fashion to what other teams have done with their 2011 draftees.

Watt has leverage; as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL, perhaps the best interior lineman in a 3-4 system, the Texans can't afford to go without him. But Watt doesn't feel the time has come to wield that leverage by holding out.

"That would cause me to miss time with my teammates," he said. "Right now, I want to practice. I want to be out here with these young guys. I want to teach them things that I know. I want to better myself. And it hasn't really come to that. I want to be a Houston Texan. I want to play football, I want to be the best I can be. I can't do that by sitting on my couch. I want to come out here and help my team.

"The business side of things is the business side. Right now I'm in football mode, so I worry about that. If the time comes that I need to get involved in the business side, I will."

There is one aspect of the negotiations on which both McNair and Watt are in total agreement -- both parties want Watt in Houston for as long as possible.

"I sure would like to be," Watt said. "I love the fans that we have. I love the relationship we have. The city is so great. The way that they've treated myself and my family, I couldn't ask for a better place to play. I sure as heck hope we can make something happen."

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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