It’s no secret: J.J. Watt loves Chicago. The Houston Texans superstar has spent a good deal of time in the Windy City over the last several months after his wife Kealia Ohai was traded to the Chicago Red Stars in January. While Ohai will likely be playing in Chicago for the next few years, Watt will be spending the upcoming 2020 season with the Texans. But considering recent actions taken by Houston GM and head coach Bill O’Brien, some have been left wondering whether Watt will be finishing his career elsewhere.
In the last year alone, O’Brien has traded Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins, two of the team’s veteran leaders, to other teams, and soon after, ‘what if’ rumors began to circulate about the 31-year-old Watt possibly finishing his career in Chicago. Erik Lambert of Sports Mockery has been a primary advocate for a Watt-to-the-Bears scenario, but he’s not alone.
Lambert seems to think Watt has been dropping hints about playing in Chicago like breadcrumbs — but would the Chicago Bears even want to pick them up? Watt appeared on Jake Hamilton’s show “Jake’s Takes” this week, and he once again spoke about Chicago in glowing terms — and this time, he also said some pretty great things about the Bears and Solider Field.
J.J. Watt & Texans Will Visit Soldier Field in December
Watt went on “Jake’s Takes” to promote his upcoming show Ultimate Tag, and he also discussed what he has been up to over the last several months. Watt noted he and Ohai were staying in his native state of Wisconsin, where they were utilizing the full gym and football field they have at their disposal. When Hamilton asked Watt what he thought of Ohai’s new city, his review was glowing.
“We love Chicago,” Watt said. “I grew up in Wisconsin, obviously, so I’ve been down to Chicago before, but getting to spend more time there now — it’s just such a great city. The people are great, the food is unbelievable, the views with the lake and everything, it’s just a great city and we really enjoy our time there. We love it there and look forward to spending some time there over the next few years,” he said about Chicago.
Hamilton then mentioned the Texans’ upcoming matchup against the Bears in Soldier Field this December. Watt then gave those who think he may be dropping hints about wanting to playing in Chicago a little more fuel for their fires.
“Getting a chance to play in Chicago, Soldier Field’s obviously an iconic stadium, and it’s a great place to play,” Watt said, before giving a shout out to Bears fans and Chicago winters. “The fans are great. The weather’s gonna be a lot of fun in December, and it’s fun to play in that type of old school mentality, old school environment. Growing up in Wisconsin, I’ve played in snow obviously before, so maybe we’ll catch a little bit of snow and get a chance to play in that type of weather because we don’t get that down here in Houston,” he said.
J.J. Watt’s Contract: Could Chicago Roll With Him in 2021 or Beyond?
According to Spotrac, Watt will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, and he is slated to make $15.5 million this year and $17.5 million in 2021. The Bears are currently too limited to trade for Watt and pick up a salary that hefty, but he’s likely not going anywhere this year anyway. Next year, it’s possible, but Watt’s injury history will likely give the Bears pause.
Watt missed the bulk of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with injuries, and he started just eight games last year after tearing his pectoral muscle. That said, he came back to start 16 games and force seven fumbles in 2018, when he was named an All-Pro for the fifth time. He also made an immediate impact last year when he returned for the postseason after his torn pec, and he has been a beast for the entirety of his career. In his nine seasons, he has started 112 games, netting 96 sacks, 54 passes defensed, 23 forced fumbles and 158 tackles for loss.
His age and injury history could cause the Bears — or any team who could be potentially interested in Watt — to ask him to restructure his contract or take a bit less money, but considering how Watt has spoken about Chicago and now Soldier Field, Lambert thinks that while it’s far-fetched, it’s still possible Watt would be open to doing that.
Much will certainly depend on the 2020 season and the future decision-making of O’Brien, as well as how much money the team pays quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is slated to sign a massive contract extension soon. Whatever the outcome, Watt has made it clear he is all about Chicago.
You can watch Watt’s full interview with Hamilton below.