Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported Tuesday the Browns check all the boxes Watt is seeking in a new team—a Super Bowl contender with cap space, a strong supporting cast and a positive environment—and the front office reached out as soon as he became available Friday.
Watt, who's free to sign at any time since he was released from his contract and is not a standard free agent awaiting the NFL's new league year in March, is attracting plenty of interest despite a dip in production over the past couple of years.
Watt was the most dominant defensive player in football from 2012 through 2015. He racked up 315 total tackles, 69 sacks, 41 passes defended and 15 forced fumbles over that four-year span.
He was limited to just eight games over the next two seasons because of injuries, but he bounced back with 16 sacks in 2018.
The 31-year-old Wisconsin native has tallied a more modest nine sacks in 24 appearances over the past two seasons with the Texans.
Although the immediate thought upon Watt's release was that he'd sign with the Steelers to play alongside his brothers, T.J. and Derek Watt, the report he's seriously looking into the Browns suggests he's open to all possibilities on the open market.
One of Cleveland's advantages is its cap space, giving the front office the chance to sign the star defender without needing to make other moves. The same can't be said for the Bills, Steelers or Titans, based on Spotrac's projections for 2021.
The Browns also feature fellow defensive end Myles Garrett, who's recorded 42.5 sacks in 51 career games. His presence would allow Watt to see far fewer double teams than he did in Houston.
It's unclear how long the five-time Pro Bowl selection will go through the vetting process before choosing his new team, but it sounds like Cleveland is in the mix, which is another sign of the long-tormented franchise's recent upward trajectory.