Cardinals ‘had no idea’ JJ Watt was retiring, says head coach
JJ Watt announced Tuesday that this would be his last season in the NFL.
However, fans weren’t the only people surprised by the Arizona Cardinals defensive end’s announcement; in fact, his own team was taken by surprise.
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“We had no idea what was coming,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Wednesday.
Perhaps the Cardinals thought Watt wouldn’t hang up his shoes, considering he’s having his best season in years.
Watt’s 9.5 sacks this season are the most he’s had since recording 16 in the 2018 season. He now has 111.5 for his career: His 3.0 sacks on Dec. 18 earned him $900,000 in incentives.
But in a social media post, he said he played in his “last NFL home game.”
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“Happy for him. He seems to be in a very good place… What a tremendous player and person and one of the all-time greats in this league,” Kingsbury said. “So to see him play the way he played the other night and then to hear that, I think it’s a special moment for him, the organization, the entire NFL to celebrate these last two weeks.”
Watt spent his first 10 seasons with the Houston Texans, who selected him 11th overall in the 2011 draft.
Arizona will close out its season by facing the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in its last two games.
If Watt earns another half-sack in his last two games, he’ll earn an extra $1 million.
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The five-time first-team All-Pro led the NFL in sacks in both 2012 and 2015 with 20.5 and 17.5, respectively. He also had 20.5 sacks in 2014, the season in which he won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award (also in 2012 and 2015) and finished second in the MVP voting.