Devastating Injury Expected to End Season for Cardinals’ J.J. Watt: Report

Getty Images J.J. Watt on the field before the Rams game in 2021.

The Arizona Cardinals have been given grim news on the injury front.

According to sources of ESPN’s Adam Schefter on October 27, J.J. Watt “will undergo what is now likely to be season-ending shoulder surgery.”

Schefter is also reporting that no date is set for his surgery. Watt hurt his shoulder against the Texans in the second quarter and still managed to play the rest of the game with the injury.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reports Watt’s surgery is “likely to require at least three months of recovery.”

At first, Watt was just ruled out for the October 28th matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

Watt didn’t practice all week leading up to Thursday’s game against the Packers. While Watt and others were on the injury report throughout the week, head coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph gave no clues that his injury was serious.

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Now, the five-time Pro Bowler’s season is likely over.

The undefeated Cardinals and will face the 6-1 Packers on Thursday Night Football.


What Losing Watt Means for Arizona

Although the box score might not show it at times, Watt has been excellent thus far in 2021. According to ESPN, Watt ranks in the top 10 among defensive tackles for pass rush win rate and run stop win rate through Week 7.

After beginning training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a hamstring injury, the Cardinals activated Watt on August 23 and he has since has had his revitalization in Arizona.

Watt is second on the team in hits and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss. As a result, Arizona’s defense is first in points allowed.

We won’t see the end of Watt in a Cardinals uniform if he is indeed out for the season since Watt signed a two-year deal with the team in March. And keep in mind, Rapoport makes it seem Watt’s return isn’t out of the question due to his history of recoveries in the past.

He’ll “have surgery as soon as possible and rehab,” per Rapoport.


How Might the Cardinals Replace Watt’s Production?

In the meantime, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips has looked good since his return from injured reserve and will have to step up. This team is 7-0 for a reason. The depth on the defensive line will have to jump into the action.

The Cardinals just got back Zach Allen and even better, premier edge rusher Chandler Jones from the Reserve/COVID list. Markus Golden has been a pass-rushing catalyst, tallying six sacks and four forced fumbles.

General manager Steve Keim could look at the market, knowing his history of aggressive moves after an injury. His aggressiveness is why Zach Ertz is currently a Cardinal after Maxx Williams’ season-ending knee injury.

But the likeliest scenario? The Cardinals don’t have much room to work with in terms of the salary cap. Vance Joseph will have to experiment and find out more about his depth pieces as we get closer to the deadline on November 2. The team has answered every test and will continue to fight through adversity. It wasn’t long ago that 2021 free agent signing veteran corner Malcolm Butler suddenly retired.

Watt’s a different breed obviously. But for now, we wait and see.


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