Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is hoping to earn a long-term contract extension before the 2014 NFL season.
J.J. Watt wants a long-term contract extension with the Houston Texans.
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Watt told The Houston Chronicle's John McClain on Aug. 19 his frustrations over the current pace of negotiations:
"Defensive end J.J. Watt's frustration over failing to get a contract extension reached a boiling point after the Texans' first practice with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday.
"Ongoing negotiations between the Texans and agent Tom Condon haven't provided Watt with the kind of extension he wants, so he went public with his hope to get a deal done before the regular season begins.
"Watt is in the fourth year of what became a five-year contract when the Texans exercised an option for 2015 in May. His base salary for 2014 is $1.9 million, with the 2015 option worth $6.9 million.
"General manager Rick Smith has a policy of no contract negotiations during the regular season, so they're working with a deadline.
"'Is sure as heck hope we can make something happen,' Watt said. 'I get paid to go after quarterbacks. There are people who get paid to decide how much I get paid to go after quarterbacks. I'll let them decide (how much that's worth).
"'I hope I've given the effort and everything they could want to hopefully show that appreciation.'
"Watt wants to be a career Texan.
"'I sure would like to be,' he said. 'I love the fans we have. I love the relationship we have. The city's so great. The way the've treated (me) and my family, I couldn't ask for a better place to play.'
"Watt was the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft. That was the first draft class under the new collective bargaining agreement that severely reduced guaranteed money for first-round picks.
"Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson and Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith were selected ahead of Watt, and both have received extensions.
"'With the new CBA, I think one of the goals was to make guys earn their pay,' Watt said. 'No more big paydays upfront. Make guys go out there and play and show that they've earned it.
"'I think when a team gives a contract after the third year, I think 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.'
"The Texans believe Watt has outplayed his contract, or they wouldn't be negotiating with Condon. But negotiating is one thing. Coming to an agreement is something else.
"Because he's under contract through next season, Watt has no leverage other than to hold out. After 2015, the Texans can use the franchise tag on him. He said sitting out is not an option.
"'That would cause me to miss time with my teammates, and right now I want to practice,' Watt said. 'I want to be out here with these young guys. I want to teach them the things I know. I want to better myself.
"'It hasn't really come to that (a holdout). I want to be a Houston Texan. I want to play football. I want to be the best I can be, and I can't do that by sitting on my couch.'
"If Watt can't get an extension worked out with the Texans before the regular-season opener against Washington, negotiations will have to be put on hold until after the season.
"'I can't worry about it out there,' he said. 'All I can do is practice football. I think no matter what job you do -- I don't care what job it is -- you want to outperform your contract. You should want people to think you're underpaid because of how hard you work, because of how well you do your job, because of how you go about your business.
"That's just personal pride, and that's the way I was raised, and that's the way my parents taught me: If they give you $2 worth of wage, give them $3 worth of work.'
"Because Watt is the most popular player on the team and one of the best players in the NFL, his contract situation is going to be big news until he gets an extension or the regular season begins."
ESPN Houston Texans reporter Tanya Ganguli argues Watt has already earned a long-term deal, even if it hasn't been made official -- yet:
"Watt wouldn't say it today, but I will: He has earned the new contract he has yet to receive. There are salary-cap concerns to consider, sure, but those can be navigated without things getting ugly between the Texans and the best defensive player in franchise history.
"The genesis of this came from a reaction to some of owner Bob McNair's coimments earlier this month. In a conversation we had, McNair made clear he wouldn't be afraid to use the franchise tag on Watt. McNair brought up the concept of the franchise tag unprompted, noting that Watt would be with the Texans one way or another for the next four seasons: 2014 on his rookie deal, 2015 on the rookie deal's option year, 2016 on a franchise tag if necessary and 2017 on another franchise tag.
"I asked about the potential ill will using the franchise tag could cause in negoatiations and McNair said he wasn't worried. He said that was just a negotiating tactic...
"...Mission accomplished, because Watt has far outperformed his contract. Getting him for just $1.9 million year and $6.9 million in 2015, the option year the Texans picked up in May, is a steal. He's been one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in the NFL for the past two seasons."
The 25-year-old Watt is entering his fourth NFL season. He has amassed 217 tackles, 36.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in 48 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.
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