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What occurred to J.J. Watt? Why NFL star left Texans, signed with Cardinals earlier than 2021 season

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J.J. Watt was a mainstay on the sphere and sidelines for the Texans for a decade. The group chosen him with the eleventh choose within the 2011 NFL Draft and he was one of many marquee gamers to observe any time that Houston has performed in prime time.

However when the Texans face the Panthers on “Thursday Night time Soccer,” they’ll accomplish that with out Watt. He and the Texans parted methods through the 2021 offseason.

Watt put collectively a storied, Corridor of Fame profession with the Texans. He was named an AP All-Professional 5 instances and logged 101 sacks throughout his profession. That is essentially the most in Texans historical past by a large margin; Whitney Mercilus (55) is in second on the checklist.

Watt additionally received the Defensive Participant of the 12 months award 3 times.

Why did J.J. Watt depart the Texans? And the place is he taking part in throughout his eleventh NFL season? Here is every part you’ll want to learn about Watt’s offseason of change.

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Why did J.J. Watt depart the Texans?

Watt and the Texans mutually agreed to half methods through the 2021 offseason. He introduced that call in a video posted to his Twitter account on Feb. 12, 2021.

This wasn’t a shock. The Texans went 4-12 through the 2020 season and had been heading for a rebuild. Watt needed to play for a contender. 

“I do not assume it is any secret that I haven’t got 10 years left on this league,” Watt mentioned in November of 2020, per ESPN. “I personally consider that I do have a couple of extra nice ones left in me. However you can also’t … I am not seeking to rebuild. I am seeking to go after a championship, and that is what I need to do. So, no matter is in the very best curiosity of the Houston Texans, that is in the very best curiosity of myself.”

The Texans — who had been set to seek for a brand new coach and GM after firing Invoice O’Brien and had no first or second-round picks within the 2021 NFL Draft — could not provide Watt an opportunity to play for a playoff group, not to mention a Tremendous Bowl winner. So, they elected to half methods.

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The goodbye was a heartfelt one for Watt.

“I got here right here 10 years in the past as a child from Wisconsin who’d by no means actually been to Texas earlier than. And now I can not think about my life with out Texas in it,” Watt mentioned. “The way in which that you simply guys have handled me — apart from draft evening, I imply you guys booed me on draft evening — however daily after that you simply handled me like household. And I really really feel such as you’re my household.”

The Texans shared the sentiment and thanked Watt for every part he had finished for the franchise in an official assertion from the group.

“Change is rarely simple, particularly when it entails those you like. J.J.’s affect on not solely our group, however your entire Houston group, is not like any participant in our franchise’s historical past,” mentioned Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. “I instructed J.J. earlier this week that we are going to ceaselessly take into account him a Texan. We take solace in realizing that this isn’t a goodbye however a ‘see you quickly.'”

Watt was launched shortly after that announcement was made, and he bought prepared to maneuver on to his second NFL group.

“I am excited and searching ahead to a brand new alternative,” Watt mentioned. “And I have been working extraordinarily laborious. However on the identical time, it’s at all times powerful to maneuver on. And I simply need you guys to know that I really like you, I recognize you. I recognize the McNair household for drafting me and giving me my first alternative NFL. Thanks, Houston, I really like you.”

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The place is J.J. Watt now?

Watt is taking part in for the Cardinals in 2021. He signed a two-year deal price $28 million to be a part of a line of defense that already options one of many NFL’s greatest go rushers, Chandler Jones.

Watt’s transfer has labored out to date. The Cardinals are 2-0 to start out the season and appeared like a authentic playoff contender after manhandling the Titans 38-13 in Week 1. Week 2 was a bit dicier, however they nonetheless pulled off a 34-33 win over the Vikings.

Whereas Watt has but to generate a sack in Arizona, he has racked up 4 tackles, a sort out for loss and a quarterback hit. He additionally helped take consideration away from Jones throughout his five-sack outing within the Cardinals’ season opener.

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