Arizona Cardinals' defensive end J.J. Watt shocked the NFL world when he announced he is retiring at the end of the 2022 season. Apparently, even head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the entire Cardinals' organization were shocked too.
Watt announced that Arizona's Week 16 matchup with the Buccaneers was the final home game of his 12-year NFL career. Kingsbury said that the Cardinals, “had no idea,” that Watt was going to announce his retirement, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.
Watt will finish out his career playing against the Falcons and 49ers. He has put together a strong season for the Cardinals, racking up 33 tackles, 14 for a loss, 21 quarterback hits and 9.5 sacks. Watt is currently tied for 16th in the NFL in sacks.
The Cardinals' defensive end has been fairly healthy in 2022, but Watt has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career. He suffered a shoulder injury that limited him to just seven games in 2021 and a torn pectoral in 2019 that limited him to eight. This is all after playing in just eight games between 2016-2017 due to back and leg injuries.
At 33-years old, J.J. Watt now feels it's time for him to step away. Still, he has left his mark on the NFL as a five-time Pro Bowler, five-time All Pro selection and three-time Defensive Player of the year.
Watt's loss leaves a hole in Arizona. While he was getting up there in age, he was still a force for the Cardinals. Kingsbury was blindsided by Watt's announcement and must now try to find a replacement for the potential future Hall of Famer.