3x Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt Is Open to a NFL Comeback, but on 1 Condition

The Houston Texans surprised many people last season. After drafting Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud with the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, they were able to win the AFC South with a 10-7 record and defeated the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs before losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round.

Houston Texans, JJ Watt

It was certainly a turnaround for the ages, as first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans took a 3-13-1 squad and improved their win total by seven games. It was also Houston’s first appearance in the NFL Playoffs since 2019.Ezoic



From 2020-2022, the Texans did not win more than four games in an any single season. After the 2020 season, Houston legend and three-time Defensive Play of the Year JJ Watt departed for the Arizona Cardinals and the organization entered a brief dark age.Ezoic

Ryans and his young quarterback helped speed up Houston’s rebuild and return them to relevance sooner than many thought they could, and Watt took notice.

Houston Texans, JJ Watt
Oct 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Former Houston Texans player J.J. Watt speaks to the crowd after being inducted into the Texans Ring of Honor during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Watt retired from the NFL following the 2022 season, a year in which he posted 12.5 sacks for the Cardinals and came in eighth in the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year voting. He finished his storied career with 114.5 sacks, which rank 24th all time in NFL history.

As seen in the picture above, Watt has already been inducted into the Texans Ring of Honor. Shortly after retiring, he also signed a multi-year contract to be an analyst for CBS Sports. However, he is not ruling out a possible NFL comeback.

Speaking at his annual charity softball game, Watt said that he would be willing to play in the NFL again, but only for the Texans, and only on one condition:Ezoic

“I’ve had 12 great years in this league and I’m very thankful to have walked away healthy and playing great. I told DeMeco last year, I said, ‘Don’t call unless you absolutely need it, but if you ever do call, I’ll be there.’ And he knows not to call unless he absolutely needs it. This is the last year I’ll tell him that, because I’m not going to keep training the way I’ve been training, but he knows that if he ever truly does need it, I’ll be there for him. I don’t anticipate that happening — they’ve got a very good group.”

If Watt were to make a comeback in 2024, he obviously would not play every down like he did before his retirement. That being said, he would be joining one of the oldest defensive line groups in the NFL. As their roster is constructed currently, the Texans have three defensive lineman with 10 or more years of NFL experience: Danielle Hunter, Mario Edwards, and Denico Autry.

JJ Watt’s Accomplishments with the Houston Texans

Houston Texans, JJ Watt
Dec 13, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) warms-up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports


The Texans drafted Watt with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Wisconsin Badgers product was an immediate starter and registered 5.5 sacks as a rookie.

The 2012 season, Watt’s second in the league, was the beginning of one of the most dominant five-year stretches for an individual defensive player in NFL history. That year, Watt registered 20.5 sacks and 39 tackles for loss on his way to winning his first Defensive Player of the Year Award. He also was named First Team All Pro for the first time in his career.

After another All-Pro campaign in 2013, Watt once again logged 20.5 sacks in 2014 and won his second Defensive Player of the Year Award. Not only that, he caught three touchdown passes as a goal line tight end that year.

2015 saw Watt win his second-consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award, logging 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for a loss.

Unfortunately, Watt missed most of the next two seasons with a slew of injuries that limited him to eight out of a possible 32 games played. However, his 16.0 sacks and league-leading seven forced fumbles in 2018 landed him a second-place finish in Comeback Player of the Year voting and returned him to First Team All-Pro status.

Watt played two more seasons in Houston before finishing his career with the Cardinals.

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