Houston Chronicle

J.J. Watt wants to re­main a Texan, but he’s frus­trated by talks

Watt wants new deal be­fore sea­son be­gins but doesn’t like pace of talks

- JOHN McCLAIN Belarus · Colorado · Denver Broncos · Denver · Iceland · Belgium · Arizona · Patrick Peterson · Dallas · Houston · Washington · NFL · J. J. Watt · Englewood, Colorado · Houston Texans · Rick Smith · Tyron Smith

EN­GLE­WOOD, Colo. — 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.

“I sure as heck hope we

“If they give you $2 worth of wage, give them $3 worth of work.”

J. J. Watt, on his work ethic

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 they’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 here,” 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.

“Right now, I’m in foot­ball mode, so I worry about that,” he said. “If the time comes where I re­ally need to get in­volved in the busi­ness side, I will. But for the time be­ing, I’m just try­ing to help my team­mates and be the best player I can be, be­cause I sure as heck love this game.

“No mat­ter what, I’ll always try to put on the best face I can for this or­ga­ni­za­tion. I’ll always try to be the best am­bas­sador I can be for the Hous­ton Tex­ans.”

 ?? Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chronicle ?? J.J. Watt says miss­ing prac­tice time, like Tues­day’s work­out with the Bron­cos in Englwood, Colo., or games be­cause of a con­tract dis­pute is out of the ques­tion.
Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chronicle J.J. Watt says miss­ing prac­tice time, like Tues­day’s work­out with the Bron­cos in Englwood, Colo., or games be­cause of a con­tract dis­pute is out of the ques­tion.
 ??  ??
 ?? Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chronicle ?? De­fen­sive end J.J. Watt runs a ball-strip­ping drill with Chance Gra­ham, a Tex­ans vice pres­i­dent who was help­ing out dur­ing a joint prac­tice with the Bron­cos on Tues­day in En­gle­wood, Colo.
Brett Coomer / Hous­ton Chronicle De­fen­sive end J.J. Watt runs a ball-strip­ping drill with Chance Gra­ham, a Tex­ans vice pres­i­dent who was help­ing out dur­ing a joint prac­tice with the Bron­cos on Tues­day in En­gle­wood, Colo.

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