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J.J. Watt Perfect Fit for Chicago But Probably Not Bears

When the Bears played the Texans in December, Watt was loving every second of the chance to play in a city where he played a ton of hockey as a youth player.

The Bears might be losing a defensive line backup in free agency because Roy Robertson-Harris could receive offers too large to match or beat.

So they could use defensive line help. Finding a fit for J.J. Watt would be difficult, though.

The Houston Texans defensive lineman will be released at his own request. All things being equal, if there was a team Watt wanted to play for in particular, the Bears would rank up high in that category.

A pass rush with Akiem Hicks, Watt, Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack reads like an all-star lineup.

And there's also a real reason to think Watt would like this beyond playing alongside players of this level.

The Wisconsin native and former youth hockey player skated on rinks in the Chicago suburbs extensively and loves the area. He is from Pewaukee, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb.

Not only that, but his wife is Kealia Watt, a pro soccer player who spent the first six seasons in the NWSL with Houston but is now on the Chicago Red Stars. The Watts family is already in Chicago.

"I grew up playing hockey in the Chicago area, northern suburbs, you know, Winnetka, Naperville, Rockford," Watt said via a Zoom conference call with media prior to the Bears' 36-7 victory over Houston. "You know, I played hockey all over Chicago. So I'm very familiar with it, obviously, like I said."

The team itself appeals to Watt, too.

"It's a historic stadium, it's a historic franchise," Watt said. "I'm very familiar with it, like I said, growing up having watched the Bears-Packers rivalry a ton growing up and just knowing the history and tradition that is there.

"Mike Ditka and all the guys that have been through there before, Walter Payton. Just, it's an incredible organization. So it is cool to get a chance to play there."

The fit itself in terms of football, though, is not so cool.

The Bears play a 3-4 and at 6-foot-5, 288 pounds, Watt is more of a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 than a 3-4 edge. If he came to the Bears it's possible it would be in a role like Mario Edwards Jr. had last year, playing inside as a situational rusher in the four-man line.

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The Bears just doled out $33 million for Robert Quinn and can't really move him out to bring in Watt as an edge because in this scheme the edge has to be athletic enough to play in pass coverage. 

Quinn even struggled with this last year and the Bears on defense were hurt by not having the flexibility Leonard Floyd provided, along with the speed he possesses.

If Watt was a 310-pound player who could fit in as a 5-technique at defensive end in the 3-4 the way Hicks does, it might be a possible.

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Certainly it sounds like Watt would have no trouble adding the weight from the way he talked about Chicago food when he was planning to come play the Bears.

"I'm not going to lie," Watt said. "I looked up where we were staying in Chicago and there's a Portillo's like half a mile away, so it's going to be pretty dangerous for me. Lou Malnati's is like another half a block."

For the non-Chicagoans, Malnati's is famed for Chicago style pizza and Portillo's for Italian beef and hot dogs.

He'd already have some sponsorships lined up it seems.

Watt, though, would be a hard sell to the Bears because of salary. 

They already are at or just above the salary cap and need to cut some money while also finding some to sign Allen Robinson and also a quarterback.

It wouldn't be a far-fetched to see Watt turn up in places like Indianapolis, Minnesota or Detroit, though. A 4-3 style would suit him well and wouldn't he love the chance to go back with the Colts and beat the Texans?

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven