Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has recorded 36.5 sacks during his first three years in the NFL, and team owner Bob McNair knows he’s due for a big payday.
That doesn’t mean, however, that McNair is afraid of losing the 25-year-old, who is under contract through the 2015 season.
If the Texans can’t reach an agreement with Watt before his rookie contract expires, though, they wouldn’t mind using the franchise tag to keep him under team control, McNair told ESPN.com on Friday.
“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.”
The Texans already picked up the fifth year of Watt’s contract during the offseason, meaning they wouldn’t have to tag him until after the 2015 season. Players who aren’t quarterbacks can’t be tagged more than twice.
“You’ve got guys in the Hall of Fame that have been franchised in back-to-back years,” McNair told ESPN.com. “The franchise tag is worth something to the team, and you can’t be afraid to use it.”
McNair said that Watt was considered one of the organization’s “core” players, and that the team hopes to reach an extension with him before having to use the tag.
“It has to make sense for us. The team comes first,” McNair said. “We want to keep all of our players. We want to take care of all or our players, but the team comes first.”