TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals made it officially official with former Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt on Tuesday. Watt, drafted in 2011, is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and five-time First Team All-Pro.
On Tuesday, Watt spoke to reporters in Arizona over Zoom for the first time and he said there were a lot of factors that brought him to the Cardinals.
He mentioned by name players including DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones, Budda Baker and Kyler Murray.
With Murray, Watt said: "I've always said in this league, you have to have a quarterback to have a chance. And there's a young, extremely talented quarterback here who can do big things and is going from year two to year three, and can take an even bigger jump to continue to grow and progress and be even better."
Watt had more positive things to say about the Cardinals' 23-year-old starting quarterback who won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in his first season and made the Pro Bowl in his second.
"He's been a winner at every stage of his life and that's not a coincidence," Watt said. "I told him yesterday in a text, I'm here because I believe in you."
Watt said above all, his goals are to win a championship in Arizona and he believes this team is there.
"We have one goal in mind," Watt said. "And you don't set your goal for for the championship four or five, six years down the road, you set it for this year. So that's the goal."
When talking about lining up with Chandler Jones, Watt spoke about his excitement to get on the field with him and talk games and schemes.
"One of the most fun parts of the game is when you have guys that love the game and that love studying the film and that love being on the practice field that love putting in the work," Watt said. "When you have a full team of guys like that, who just have a passion for winning and have a drive for wanting to be great, that's when football is just the best because then you feed off of each other."
The 31-year-old shocked the sports world on Monday when he posted a picture of him in a Cardinals shirt on Twitter, declaring he was signing with the team. There was much more speculation flowing that Watt may sign with playoff teams from last season including the Bills, Browns, Packers and Steelers.
Watt said the recruiting pitch from the Cardinals was "strong and heavy," saying it was Owner Michael Bidwill, GM Steve Keim, players, coaches and even non-football people reaching out to him and even sending him pictures of Paradise Valley.
"At the end of the day, I tell my wide all signs just kind of kept pointing back down here to Arizona and in my short time here on the ground, I can tell you that I'm absolutely pleased and couldn't be happier with my decision."
Between DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Paul and J.J. Watt all coming to the Valley in the past year to play, there's a lot of buzz now with the "energy" in the Valley. Chris Paul had a press conference with the Suns earlier in the day and Paul and Watt both spoke about each other and the Valley.
The Cardinals are signing Watt to a two-year, $31 million deal which includes $23 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.
Watt became the second major player to move over to the Cardinals from the Texans, after Arizona traded for DeAndre Hopkins, one of the league's top receivers, around this same time last year. Last month, Hopkins posted a photo of Watt photoshopped into a Cardinals jersey with the caption, "Let's finish what we started," trying to lure his former teammate to the desert.
While the Cardinals have Watt's number 99 retired from running back Marshall Goldberg, Watt said he called Goldberg's daughter and she gave him permission to wear the number in Arizona.
Team 12's Niala Charles spoke on Monday to J.J. Watt's mother, Connie Watt, about J.J.'s legacy of philanthropy that he is bringing with him to the Valley.