Although the weeks of rumors and speculation surrounding J.J. Watt's free agency decision oftentimes placed him in a brown and orange uniform, the star defensive end announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that he will be signing with the Arizona Cardinals.
Watt entered free agency after the Texans released him in early February and the frenzy began with reports of interest from nearly a dozen teams including the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers, among others—but Arizona was not among the top names mentioned in reports of his decision-making.
Really, the only mention of the Cardinals in the running for Watt was an Instagram plea from wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last week recruiting Watt by writing, "Let's finish what we started."
Watt will reunite with Hopkins, who was traded from the Texans in March 2020 to the Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. The trade was one of the first of moves of a dysfunctional ripple effect in the Texans organization, leading to Watt requesting his release from the team.
The defensive end, who soon turns 32, is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, five-time First Team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler who last season notched 56 total tackles, 17 quarterback hits, five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown. Over his 10-year career, which he spent the entirety of with the Texans, Watt has recorded 531 tackles, 101 sacks, 25 forced fumbles, two interceptions returned for touchdowns, and 282 quarterback hits.
Over the past several weeks, Watt's landing spot was a topic of discussion for many fan bases and media outlets alike—but the rumors were laid to rest on Monday with his decision to sign with the Cardinals, which according to ESPN's Adam Schefter came with a two-year, $31 million deal with $23 million guaranteed.
Cardinals are giving J.J. Watt a two-year, $31 million deal that includes $23 million guaranteed, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2021
Although Watt won't be playing for Cleveland, the Browns are undoubtedly pursuing other players to bolster their defense, so let the new wave of free agency rumors in Cleveland commence.