J.J. Watt joins the Arizona Cardinals in surprise signing

Mar 1, 2021, 11:01 AM | Updated: 11:54 am
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during...
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) congratulates wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during the football game between the New York Giants and Houston Texans on September 23, 2018 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals.

That’s from Watt’s own Twitter account and comes hours after he used social media to shoot down claims that he was deciding between the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns — those claims came from a screenshot of a Peloton biography of someone mispresenting themselves as the five-time Pro Bowler.

Multiple reports confirmed the news, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter said he’s agreed to a two-year, $31 million deal. The team made the move official shortly after.

Watt on Monday posted a picture of him lifting weights in a Cardinals shirt along with the caption: “source: me.”

Watt announced in a video posted to his social media two weeks ago that he has mutually agreed to part ways with the Texans.

Four days later, Cardinals All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins recruited his former Houston teammate.

“Let’s finish what we started…” Hopkins wrote on Instagram with a PhotoShopped image of he and Watt embracing while both wearing Cardinals jerseys.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reports that pass-rusher Chandler Jones was among the Cardinals actively recruiting Watt to Arizona.

Watt, who will turn 32 next month, is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, five-time First Team All-Pro and two-time league sack leader.

Though he’s battled injuries by playing less than half the schedule in three of the past five seasons, Watt was plenty productive in 2020. He posted 52 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and seven passes defensed last year.

With Arizona, Watt would join a defensive front that includes Jones coming off a biceps injury, as well as tackle Jordan Phillips, who signed a multi-year deal last offseason but dealt with injuries and posted 11 tackles and two sacks in 11 games.

Developing players Zach Allen, Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence — all of whom remain on rookie deals — are also back.

Houston’s ownership, led by Cal McNair, has received heavy criticism after the failed Bill O’Brien tenure that spiraled most notably last offseason with the trade of receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.

The team fired O’Brien mid-year, and since then its front office culture, which has been influenced by executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, has been under the spotlight in features by Sports Illustrated and others.

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