New Arizona Cardinals defensive star J.J. Watt wanted to announce his free-agency decision on his own terms. Doing so required taking extra care.
Watt announced Monday he was signing with the Cardinals via Twitter, sharing a picture of himself in a Cardinals shirt:
source: me. pic.twitter.com/1Y6okQBUy5
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 1, 2021
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year revealed Tuesday he felt the need to go through back channels to get the shirts and prevent a leak from occurring.
Watt said he had one of his brother’s friends order shirts for the final few teams he was considering, per Cardinals beat reporter Darren Urban. The 31-year-old admitted the tactics were “kind of funny, kind of stupid.” It certainly all worked out:
Watt called it "kind of funny, kind of stupid," but bottom line, he shocked the world with his weightlifting-in-the-shirt post, so seems pretty smart in hindsight.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) March 2, 2021
The announcement did have a special sort of “Wow” factor coming from Watt himself. Truthfully, though, it would have been a shocking development regardless of the way in which the story broke.
Arizona was not necessarily at the top of most lists when it came to Watt’s best suitors. The Cardinals are fresh off an 8-8 season and, while they made year-over-year improvements, are hardly established contenders.
Conversely, there were a number of perennial contenders likely to line up for Watt’s services. The Green Bay Packers appeared to be a logical fit given pass-rushing needs and the fact they are essentially Watt’s hometown team. Signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers would have allowed Watt to play with his two brothers, while joining another AFC North squad would have meant he could play against them twice a season.
Ultimately, though, Watt chose familiarity with former teammate DeAndre Hopkins and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph already in Arizona. Watt also highlighted Kyler Murray as a big part of his choice to sign with the Cardinals, a team that will now be the subject of discussion deep into the NFL offseason.