Texans end J.J. Watt established himself as one of the premier defensive players in the NFL during his first three seasons in the league. His next contract certainly will reflect that.

What's less certain is when that contract will come.

If the Texans can't reach a new deal before Watt's rookie contract expires, owner Bob McNair wouldn't mind using the franchise tag on him.

"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 noted that Watt is under contract for at least 2014 and 2015. Earlier this summer, the Texans picked up the optional fifth season on his contract. The sides had some preliminary discussions before the team took that action.