J.J. Watt says he’d come out of retirement if Texans ‘absolutely need it’

Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and five-time Pro Bowler J.J. Watt isn’t ruling out a return to the Houston Texans. Despite retiring after the 2021-22 season, Watt said that he’d come back if the Texans “absolutely need it.”

“I had 12 great years in this league, and I’m very thankful to have walked away healthy and playing great, ” Watt said when asked how he resists the temptation to return to football while speaking to reporters at his Charity Classic softball game in Sugar Land, Texas on Saturday. “I told (head coach) DeMeco (Ryans) last year — I said, ‘Don’t call unless you absolutely need it, but if you ever do call, I’ll be there.’ He knows not to call unless he absolutely needs it. This is the last year I’ll tell him that, because I’m not gonna 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,” Watt added, “they’ve got a very good group.”

He went on to say that he thinks QB C.J. Stroud and the defending AFC South champion Texans should open the 2023-24 season against the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, saying it would be a “phenomenal matchup.” 

“I have a feeling there are going to be a lot more primetime games in Houston than there have been in the last few years, that’s for sure,” Watt added.

The 35-year-old former defensive end spent nine years with Houston before finishing his career with the Arizona Cardinals (2021-22).

The future Hall of Famer is joined by Aaron Donald and Lawrence Taylor as the only three-time Defensive Player of the Year selections. He also finished his career with five All-Pro appearances and led the league in sacks twice (2012, 2015) and forced fumbles once (2018).

The former Texans superstar was especially dominant in 2014, leading the league in sacks (20.5) and tackles for loss (29.5), along with scoring three touchdowns as a tight end. Watt earned his second DPOY nod that season and was runner-up for MVP. 

Houston finished the 2022-23 season at 10-7. 

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