J.J. Watt made the surprising announcement on Monday that he's signing a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Watt spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the Houston Texans but asked for his release in February. During his introductory press conference, Watt explained why he signed a deal with the Cardinals.
“The longer I looked at, signs kept pointing back here,” Watt said, as reported by Pro Football Talk. Watt, 31, also mentioned that his decision to sign with the Cardinals was "certainly close." He pointed out other reasons that attracted him to the Cardinals, including quarterback Kyler Murray. Watt said Murray is a "young, extremely talented quarterback" who can take a big step forward in his third NFL season. He also sent a text to Murray, which said, "I’m here because I believe in you."
There were a number of teams interested in Watt, including the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. There were also reports of Watt joining his two brothers, T.J. and Derek Watt, who are members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, or joining the Green Bay Packers and be back in his home state of Wisconsin. But when it came down to it Watt picked the Cardinals because of Murray, the familiarity with defensive coordinator Vance Johnson's scheme and the weather. Watt also said the team's “strong and heavy” recruitment over the last couple of weeks played a big role.
The Cardinals got off to a strong start in 2020, posting a 5-3 record at the halfway point of the season. But the team struggled in the second half, finishing the year 8-8 and just missing the playoffs. The good news for the Cardinals is they will be much better defensively with the addition of Watt and the return of outside linebacker Chandler Jones who, like Watt, is a very talented pass rusher. Jones missed the majority of the 2020 season due to a bicep injury and is looking to return to his 2019 form when he recorded 19 sacks. In nine seasons, Jones has recorded 97 sacks.
As for Watt, he has notched 101 sacks in 10 seasons. He has a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner, and his accomplishments led to him being voted as a unanimous selection of the 2010 All-Decade Team. He's one of 35 players in NFL history to have officially record 100 career sacks, which became an official stat in 1982.