NFL

Steelers tried to sign J.J. Watt, reunite new Cardinals star with his brothers, per report

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After a decade with the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt is heading to the Arizona Cardinals. And not only that, but he’s getting special treatment for his relocation, receiving $31 million on a reported two-year contract as well as a No. 99 jersey previously retired by the franchise. Before he announced his move to Arizona, however, Watt apparently got a special offer from another team: The chance to play with his siblings. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers were “in the mix” for the longtime Texans star and tried to reunite Watt with his brothers T.J. and Derek, both of whom play in Pittsburgh.

Watt “would have welcomed playing with (his) brothers,” Fowler reported Tuesday. “But (the) Cardinals took (a) clear advantage in (the) final days, and Pittsburgh has much to figure out with (its) cap deficit, Big Ben’s contract and more.”

Pittsburgh may very well have been targeting Watt as a potential replacement for starting pass rusher Bud Dupree, who’s set to hit free agency later this month. As Fowler alluded to, however, part of the reason the Steelers may not retain Dupree in the first place is because they are in somewhat of a precarious cap situation. Even with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expected to restructure a lucrative 2021 salary to return for at least one more season, the Steelers could be forced to let key free agents like running back James Conner, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva leave on the open market.

Watt could have rushed opposite his brother T.J. in Pittsburgh to form one of the NFL‘s most formidable pass rushing duos; the younger Watt is a three-time All-Pro honoree and has now logged at least 13 sacks in three straight seasons, drawing Defensive Player of the Year buzz in 2020. But the Cardinals will reportedly pay Watt handsomely to line up opposite Chandler Jones in Arizona, giving him an average of more than $15 million per year after the veteran received his requested release from Houston.



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