TEMPE, Ariz. — J.J. Watt could be a terrifying presence on a football field, hunting opposing quarterbacks with unparalleled ferocity, particularly during the early 2010s with the Houston Texans.
But the 6-foot-5, 288-pounder also could be a joyful fan favorite, playing catch on the sideline with young fans in the stands before games.
Now one of the best defensive players in NFL history looks as if he’s ready to call it a career.
Watt — a three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year — indicated Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the season, posting pictures of his wife and baby on social media while writing: “Koa’s first ever NFL game. My last ever NFL home game. My heart is filled with nothing but love and gratitude. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure.”
The Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman and his wife, Kealia, became parents in October. Koa is the name of their son. Watt’s two brothers, T.J. and Derek, also play in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Unbelievable career!” Derek Watt posted on Twitter. “Can’t wait for the Hall of Fame ceremony in 5yrs! #FirstBallot #ProudYoungerBrother”
T.J. Watt simply posted a picture in reply to J.J.’s post, a shot of character Michael Scott from “The Office” TV show, smiling with tears in his eyes. T.J. Watt is a three-time All-Pro and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year for last season.
J.J. Watt, 33, was among the premier defensive players in the NFL during the early 2010s with the Houston Texans. The former Wisconsin standout was a first-round pick in 2011 and was dominant from 2012 to 2015, finishing that four-year stretch with 69 sacks, to earn all three of his AP Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Watt was solid during his rookie season, but became a star in 2012, with a stunning 20 1/2 sacks and 39 tackles for a loss. His production dipped slightly in 2013 before two more big seasons. He had 20 1/2 sacks in 2014 and 17 1/2 in 2015.
His numbers slipped during the later half of his career, largely because of injuries. He missed big chunks of time in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021, but has had a late-career revival with the Cardinals — his 9 1/2 sacks this season are his most since 2018.
Penner leads Broncos’ coach search
New Broncos CEO and co-owner Greg Penner put his stamp on the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, several months after his family spent $4.65 billion for the NFL franchise.
Penner made it clear that he is leading the search for Nathaniel Hackett’s replacement and the new head coach will report directly to him and not to GM George Paton.
Penner said he’s confident in Paton despite a series of moves that have backfired. The Broncos aren’t limiting their head coaching search to experienced head coaches even though their past three hires were first-time head coaches who didn’t pan out.
Hilton a quick hit with Cowboys
T.Y. Hilton’s notable first catch with Dallas could mean a quicker path to a larger role with the playoff-bound Cowboys.
Hilton caught a 52-yarder on third-and-30 in the fourth quarter of last week’s 40-34 victory over Philadelphia.
Dallas was down seven at the time with the Eagles poised to clinch the NFC East. Instead, the Cowboys are still alive in the division race going into a game at Tennessee on Thursday night.
Quarterback Dak Prescott said the big play to Hilton is a quick way to build trust with a new receiver. Hilton signed as a free agent this month after a 10-year career with Indianapolis.
Packers put DL Lowry on IR
Green Bay has placed defensive lineman Dean Lowry on injured reserve after a calf issue caused him to leave the Packers’ 26-20 victory at Miami on Sunday.
The move will end Lowry’s streak of 101 consecutive regular-season games played. Lowry started 12 games this season and had 43 tackles to rank second among Packers defensive linemen. Lowry had a career-high five sacks last season, but had only half a sack this season.
The Packers also signed wide receiver Bo Melton off the Seattle Seahawks practice squad and released linebacker Tipa Galeai from injured reserve.