National Football League

J.J. Watt signing with Arizona Cardinals, ending weeks of internet speculation

March 1

One of the NFL's most entertaining offseason sagas has come to its resolution.

J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals, according to a reliable internet source: Watt himself.

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is signing a two-year deal worth $31 million, with $23 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapaport.

The signing reunites the longtime Houston Texans defensive end with a standout former teammate, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins

In his 10-year career, Watt has racked up 101 sacks and 172 tackles for loss, along with 282 quarterback hits and 531 tackles. The 31-year-old quarterback menace has five First-Team All-Pro selections on his résumé and was a unanimous selection for the NFL's 2010s All-Decade team.

In Arizona, Watt will line up opposite Chandler Jones, who is three sacks shy of the century mark in his nine-year career. Haason Reddick, who burst on the scene with a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2020, could also be a factor for the Cardinals next season, though he is scheduled to become a free agent.

To say the news came as a shock would be underselling the signing.

As Colin Cowherd said immediately after the announcement, "That came out of nowhere."

With Watt joining the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Cardinals all boast some hair-raising pass-rushers, as Cowherd pointed out.

"That division is nothing but trouble. ... That division is stacked. Look at all the pass-rushers in that division. Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt, now you've got Carlos Dunlap, Aaron Donald, [Nick] Bosa."

Part of the reason Watt's signing with the Cardinals was such a surprise is that he kept the internet on its toes for weeks.

Once he and the Texans agreed to part ways, Watt entered the world of free agency for the first time in his career.

In doing so, he seemed to enjoy himself, dropping cryptic tweets that online sleuths mined for hints pointing toward his next team.

The Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers were all considered front-runners at some point in Watt's free agency.

The speculation came to a head Monday morning, when Watt's alleged Peloton profile made the rounds and listed the Packers, Browns and Buffalo Bills in the biography.

Watt swiftly denied that he even owned a Peloton bike, sending internet detectives back to the drawing board.

They didn't have to wait long, as Watt dropped the Cardinals news less than an hour after he squashed the Peloton conspiracy.

Those who took a flier, wagering that Watt would wind up on the Cardinals, stand to make a decent chunk of change, as FOX Bet had Watt as 35/1 to sign with Arizona earlier today, tied for the 17th-best odds.

Additionally, Watt's signing bumped Arizona's odds to win the Super Bowl from +4500 to +3500 and the team's odds to win the NFC from +2200 to +1800, per FOX Bet.
 
As for the ultra-competitive NFC West? Those odds shifted from +650 to +550.

This past season, Arizona finished 8-8, behind the 10-6 Rams and 12-4 Seahawks, with the 6-10 Niners bringing up the rear in the NFC West.

If Watt can be the difference-maker the Cardinals surely hope he'll be, they could make their first playoff appearance since 2015.


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