J.J. Watt is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals. The longtime Houston Texans defensive lineman agreed to sign a two-year, $31 million contract and will look to help a young team reach the Super Bowl. And while the Cardinals are a team on the rise, why did Watt make the decision to play in Arizona and not join a Super Bowl contender?
There were a few teams that showed interest in the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, including the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, three teams that reached the playoffs this past season. However, there were talks of Watt either signing with the Green Bay Packers as he would be back in his home state. Additionally, Watt could have joined the Pittsburgh Steelers and be reunited with his brothers, T.J. and Derek.
When it comes down to it, a couple of factors come into play: money and competition. Of the $31 million Watt is getting, $23 million will be guaranteed. And while the Cardinals just missed the playoffs last season with an 8-8 record, they are a team that has a lot of room to improve after starting the year 5-3. Watt will be working with a very strong defensive group that includes cornerback Patrick Peterson, safety Budda Baker and Chandler Jones who will return after suffering a biceps injury in Week 5. Jones is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, registering 97 sacks in nine seasons
Watt was asked to be released for the Texans despite having one year remaining on his contract. In a statement to the Texans fans, Watt said: "The connection I have with the people of Houston is special, and I will never take that for granted because I know how rare it is. I just want you to know that I love you and I appreciate you," said Watt via a message to fans via social media. "I want to thank the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL. Thank you, Houston." Watt has played in 128 games and posted 101 sacks. But the last two seasons have been rough, registering nine sacks in 24 games. Watt may not be the player he was during the early part of the 2010s decade, but the Cardinals got better with him on the roster.