As the Cardinals’ season winds down, the team has little to play for given their collective struggles as a team. For the defensive end JJ WattHowever, the final two weeks of the 2022 regular season will mark his final action in the NFL. The veteran announced (un Twitter) that he will retire at the end of the campaign.
Notably, Watt called Arizona’s Christmas Day loss to the Buccaneers “the last NFL home game.” The Cardinals will close out the season with road contests against the Falcons and 49ers, allowing him two final opportunities to add to his impressive career and significant statistical accomplishments.
The 33-year-old is best remembered for his 10-year tenure in Houston after being drafted 11th overall by the Texans in 2011. During this time, Watt established himself as a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the most decorated defensive players in league history. The Wisconsin alum also broke out in his second season, leading the league with 20.5 sacks. This earned him Player of the Year honors along with his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
His production continued for years after that as he strung together three straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl seasons after his 2012 performance. Watt was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2015, his third straight year, and once again topped the league in sacks. A season ago, he finished second in MVP voting as a focal point of the Texans defense in particular and the franchise as a whole.
That 2014, Watt signed a six-year, $100MM extension to keep him in Houston. In the year He stayed with the Texans through the 2020 campaign — a time when many of the franchise’s mainstays weren’t in the fold, and the team’s mid-2010s playoff run was beginning to give way to the rebuilding phase he now finds himself in. In all, Watt amassed 101 sacks and 25 forced fumbles during his time in Houston, establishing himself as a highly respected outfield pillar along the way.
The 2017 Walter Payton Player of the Year winner became one of the most sought-after free agents last season, as he searched for a new home to continue his career amid turmoil in Houston. Finally, Arizona landed, signing a two-year contract for 31 mm. Questions were raised after the decision regarding the production that could be left at the very least due to his injury history. Watt in 2011. He missed several times in 2016, 2017 and 2019. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was limited to just seven contests in his inaugural campaign with the Cardinals.
The 2010s All-Decade member posted just one sack in 2021, defying expectations heading into his twelfth NFL season. Watt turned back the clock this year, though; He leads the Cardinals with 9.5 sacks, his highest total since 2018, a season in which he earned his fifth All-Pro and Pro Bowl nod. Watt has been a mainstay of the Cardinals’ defense all year, losing just the season opener and hitting 77% on the campaign.
Watt’s 111.5 career sacks rank 26th all-time and fourth among active players. He’s only one and a half sacks behind him, so he’ll have a chance to climb the list even more over the last two games. Chandler Jones And one behind him Cam Jordan. Regardless of his performance over the next two weeks, Watt – who has more than $115MM in career earnings – will go down as one of the top defensive linemen in league history.
“My heart is full of love and gratitude.” He wrote in his retirement notice. “It was an absolute honor and a joy.”