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Steelers Ike Taylor to J.J. Watt: ‘Stay in Shape, Just in Case’



Steelers Ike Taylor J.J. Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing their somewhat overt courtship of retired defensive lineman J.J. Watt.

A few days after Mike Tomlin invited Watt to come to the facility, former Steelers cornerback and current scouting assistant Ike Taylor told Watt to stay in shape, because the Steelers might come calling.

“J.J., just stay in shape,” Taylor said on his Bleav in Steelers podcast with host Mark Bergen. “We don’t know. You might get that phone call throughout the year. Go on and stay in shape. Just in case.”

Watt insists that he is happily retired after 12 NFL seasons, but he was far from ineffective in 2022 with the Arizona Cardinals. Playing 16 games, he recorded 12.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, had 25 quarterback hits and defended seven passes.

The Steelers have noted their own affinity for familial ties in football and have already employed two of the three Watt brothers, with fullback Derek Watt playing for the team from 2020-22 and outside linebacker T.J. Watt having been on the team since he was drafted in 2017.

J.J. Watt has acknowledged that he’s supporting his brother’s team, but seems content to be retired for now.

“I’m a huge Steelers fan,” Watt said on the Barstool Sports ‘Pardon My Take’ podcast in February. “I’m all in on the Steelers.”

Watt and his wife, former U.S. Women’s National Team player Kealia, recently became minority investors in the English Premier League team Burnley F.C.

Though Watt seems happily retired, he also seemsintrigued by the idea of playing for Tomlin.

“Incredible coach & incredible man,” he wrote on Twitter, promoting Taylor’s response. “There’s a reason your players would run thru a brick wall for you. Been a pleasure hearing Derek & TJ share stories about you and your leadership.”

The Steelers don’t have an obvious need on the defensive line, where they significantly restocked by adding free agents Breiden Fehoko and Armand Watts and drafting Wisconsin tackle Keeanu Benton in the second round. But a player of Watt’s caliber will likely always be welcomed if he can be convinced to play.