Cardinals ‘had no idea’ JJ Watt was retiring, head coach says

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J.J. Watt announced on Tuesday that this would be his last NFL season.

Fans weren’t the only people surprised by the Arizona Cardinals defensive end’s announcement though — in fact, his own team was caught off guard.

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“We had no idea that was coming,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Wednesday.

Perhaps the Cardinals thought that Watt wouldn’t hang up his cleats, considering he’s having his best season in the last few 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 in 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 ever NFL home game.”

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“Happy for him. He seems like he’s in a really good place. … What a tremendous player and person and an all-time great in this league,” Kingsbury said. “So, to see him play the way he played the other night and then hear that, I think it’s just a special time for him, the organization, the entire NFL to kind of celebrate him these last two weeks.”

Watt spent his first 10 seasons with the Houston Texans, who drafted him 11th overall in 2011.

Arizona will close out their season by facing the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in their final two games.

If Watt earns another half-sack in his final two games, he will earn an extra $1 million.

The five-time All-Pro first-teamer 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, a season in which he won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award (also 2012 and 2015) and finished in second place in the MVP voting.

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