The weeks of waiting and theatrics are over. Free agent defensive end J.J. Watt is signing with the Arizona Cardinals.
Watt broke the news himself on Monday afternoon, tweeting a picture of himself squatting in a Cardinals t-shirt.
source: me. pic.twitter.com/1Y6okQBUy5— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 1, 2021
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watt is signing a two-year, $31 million deal with Arizona, $23 million of which will be 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
Watt joining the Cardinals comes as somewhat of a surprise, as reporting over recent weeks had suggested the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were the last favorites standing.
Still, Watt’s former Houston Texans teammate and current Cardinals wide receiver Deandre Hopkins was actively recruiting the star defensive end to Arizona just two weeks ago.
“Let’s finish what we started,” Hopkins said in an Instagram post picturing the two embracing with Watt Photoshopped into a Cardinals jersey.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the early favorites to land Watt, reuniting him with his brothers T.J. and Derek, but the clubs financials made the most virtually impossible to compete with an offer like Arizona’s.
The Cardinals now own one of the league’s fiercest defensive fronts, pairing Watt alongside elite edge rusher Chandler Jones, who has 97 career sacks.
Arizona already had the fourth-most sacks in football last season with 48.
Watt departed Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.