Cardinals’ J.J. Watt Addresses Potential Retirement

J.J. Watt

Getty Images J.J. Watt walks the field before the game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2021.

Despite being a five-time All-Pro and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, there have been many obstacles along the way for Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle J.J. Watt.

Among the obstacles have been injuries. Watt has suffered a broken hand, herniated disc, fractured tibia, labrum, rotator cuff and dislocated shoulder in his 11-year career.

After a successful career with the Houston Texans, Watt was released by the team in 2021 and later signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals. The Cardinals would only get seven games out of Watt in his first season as the 32-year-old’s season appeared to be over after suffering a shoulder injury to the Texans in Week 7. Watt would return in the Cardinals’ 34-11 playoff loss to the Rams.

With one year left on his contract at the age of 33, Watt was asked about retirement.

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Watt Speaks on Future

Watt talked to Pheonix Suns point guard Chris Paul for Bloomberg about his thoughts on retiring.

“I’ve definitely thought about retirement,” Watt said. “I think I probably thought about it too early at one point. I started thinking about the possibility of that when I was 26, just because you know you can’t play forever and you start to consider when that day might come.”

Retirement at a young age isn’t out of the realm of possibilities for top-tier NFL players. All-Pro linebacker Luke Keuchly retired at the age of 28 due to head injuries in 2020. Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck was 29 years old when he retired shortly before the 2019 season.

There’s another gear for Watt and that’s what drives him to attempt to reach his goal every season.

“Every time that it (retirement) ever creeps into my head, I’m a competitor man, I’m a competitor and I want to win, and I want to leave this game with a damn trophy,” Watt said.

Still, Watt has had only two seasons with 16 games since 2016. His body has taken a toll and he understands that there will be a certain point when the game of football will be behind him.

“The injuries and the things that come with the game, I’ve dealt with them more than I wish I would, but I know the consequence and I know what the possibility is and I’m willing to accept that right now to keep going,” Watt said. “Once that line crosses and it flips to where I’m not willing to accept it, that’ll be the day. But right now, I’m willing to accept the pain and everything to try to get the glory.”

Cardinals Young Defender Mirrors His Game After Watt

After the Cardinals selected defensive end Cameron Thomas in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, there’s been hype along the way.

That hype is caused due to Thomas’ comments to reporters on May 12. The third-round pick from San Diego State said he has reworked his game after Watt’s, even enough to wear No. 99 in college.

“He’s just like my role model,” Thomas said. “I have watched so much of his film and to be able to learn from him, I’m really excited to pick his brain.”

The 267-pound Thomas ranked fourth in the FBS in tackles for loss at 20.5. He played at multiple positions in college but played inside during his sophomore year in 2020.

By the time he entered his 2021 campaign, he jumped to the outside role. Thomas told reporters after being drafted that he models his game after Watt, who’s also played in different spots along the defensive line.

“J.J. is another guy who was able to learn a lot of inside, outside and just dominate so I’m hoping to do the same,” Thomas said.

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