J.J. Watt signing a transcendent moment for Arizona Cardinals

Mar 1, 2021, 5:37 PM | Updated: 5:44 pm
J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the AFC Di...
J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

It’s a myth that lightning doesn’t strike twice. It often strikes the same target repeatedly. Especially if the storm originates in Houston and the Texans are involved.


The Cardinals needed this jolt of energy as much as they needed J.J. Watt. Where were you when you heard the news?

J.J. Whaaaaaat?

This is a transcendent moment for the Cardinals, almost as good as the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins. It’s not the breaking news we all expected.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been dreading the day a true football legend announced his retirement in Arizona. On Monday, a true football legend instead joined the Cardinals’ defensive line.

This is a luxury item I did not think the team could afford. Not with pressing needs in the secondary, offensive line and wide receiver. Not when Watt is nearly 32 years old and has missed 32 games over the past five seasons.

Watt is also a NFL superstar. He’s a culture creator. He’s one of the most physically dominant defenders in NFL history. He’ll have an immediate impact on a rudderless ship, a team that too often sleepwalks into Sunday afternoon. An undisciplined team that choked away a playoff berth and ranked among league leaders in penalties.

This is also a huge moment for Steve Keim, the general manager who has drafted himself onto a very hot seat in Arizona. But Keim is very skillful at keeping his job. He’s very good at spotting easy marks, preying on both the Texans and Raiders in recent years. And this desperation play is a beauty, creating fresh new buzz while instantly solving the Haason Reddick conundrum.

Remember: Keim declined the fifth-year option on Reddick’s rookie contract, an option that would’ve cost the Cardinals around $10 million in 2021. And then Reddick responded with a great season, including a legendary five-sack performance against the Giants.

Keim couldn’t afford to give Reddick an extension. Even applying the franchise tag would’ve cost the Cardinals over $15 million for one more season of Reddick. So Keim gave that money to Watt instead, eliminating many problems in the process.

This is also a tribute to the recruiting efforts of DeAndre Hopkins, a player who must be feeling tremendous satisfaction over his role in dismantling the current Texans. You wonder if Hopkins is done with his masterpiece just yet. Or if he’s currently doing the same with superstar Deshaun Watson, the Texans’ disgruntled quarterback.

There are reports that Watt based his decision on quality of incumbent quarterback. If that was the No. 1 criteria, how could he really choose Kyler Murray in Arizona over Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay? Or is there another move coming? Could Watson be tempted in joining Watt and Hopkins in Arizona, conspiring to form the NFL’s first super team?

Hopkins would take great pride in that, as well.

Even with Murray as franchise quarterback, Watt checks a multitude of boxes. His pairing with Chandler Jones gives Arizona a pass rush of mythical proportions. His leadership will set a standard and galvanize the room. His charisma and media savvy will fill the room, at a time when Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson might be exiting stage left.

This is the worst of times for Houstonians. Watt was as much a part of their community as Fitzgerald is in the Valley. He follows Hopkins, Chris Paul, James Harden, Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu as marquee athletes who have fled the scene, in way or another.

This is a bold move for Arizona. Luxury purchases always are in these parts. It worked great with Randy Johnson and Kurt Warner. It didn’t work so well with Zack Greinke, Terrell Suggs, Madison Bumgarner or Emmitt Smith. There are no guarantees with aging athletes who come to Arizona, especially the NFL.

But Watt is worth the risk. It’s a statement from the Cardinals that they’re attempting to keep up in the arms race enveloping the NFC West. Watt is our new touchstone, a rally point, the conversation piece around Valley water coolers. We love big-name celebrities in these parts, and the Cardinals just landed one of the biggest to wear shoulder pads.

He’s what every football fan needed in Arizona. A reason to forget 3rd-and-18 and those wretched final games of the 2020 season.

Dan Bickley

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Crypto.com Arena on March 22, 2023 in Los...
Dan Bickley

Suns crying foul hints at problems between their ears

The Suns have been tagged as a flopping, foul-hunting, fall-down-after-every-shot kind of team. You don’t think that comes with consequences?
7 days ago
Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, left, reacts to referee CJ Washington (12) during the first...
Dan Bickley

Complaints about whistles by Suns distract from their real problems

The Suns have glaring holes that they are hoping Kevin Durant can fix. And it's hard to say they're working to patch those holes.
15 days ago
Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns signs autographs before the game against the Chicago Bulls at ...
Dan Bickley

Feeling like Griswold: Suns fans left waiting for Kevin Durant’s home debut after scratch

Durant was a late scratch on Wednesday, a letdown for a sold-out crowd anticipating one of the most celebrated home debuts in Suns history.
21 days ago
Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns signs autographs before the game against the Chicago Bulls at ...
Dan Bickley

Kevin Durant’s home debut for Suns will reignite Valley

When Kevin Durant takes the court Wednesday for his first home game in Phoenix, the atmosphere will be overwhelming.
23 days ago
Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns warms up before a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv F...
Dan Bickley

Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant can finish the job many before him could not

Barkley delivered the laughs. Nash started a revolution. Book and CP3 rekindled a love affair. Kevin Durant can finish the job.
29 days ago
New Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon answers a question from the media during a press c...
Dan Bickley

Cardinals’ new coaching staff is impossibly green by NFL standards

First-time head coach Jonathan Gannon is 40 years old. His first-time DC Nick Rallis is 29. Together, they are younger than Bruce Arians.
1 month ago
J.J. Watt signing a transcendent moment for Arizona Cardinals