J.J. Watt is just 27 years old and in the prime of his physical capabilities. As the NFL’s best defensive end, Watt demands a double-team on almost every snap. He’s currently in the midst of a six-year, $100 million contract with the Houston Texans, a deal that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. Though he’ll only be 33 then, recent comments from Watt give the impression that 2021 could be his last year terrorizing quarterbacks.
Appearing on SportsRadio 610 in Houston, Watt told the audience that he’d like to play until he “can’t play at that highest level any more.” Considering that he was able to morph into beast mode despite playing with five torn core muscles all last season, it’s tough to imagine that Watt’s “highest level” will be declining any time soon. Still, when he elaborated on his comments, it made us feel like the NFL is not in his long-term plans.
“I can tell you right now that I am not going to be one of those guys that is going to play as long as I possibly can. I have no interest in that,” Watt said.”I know I don’t plan on playing the game as long as I possibly can. It’s not going to be terribly longer, but I am going to play as long as I can enjoy it and have fun.”
Early retirement is no longer taboo in the NFL. Calvin Johnson recently hung up his cleats at age 30, and everyone knows the story of former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who called it quits at the ripe old age of 24 after just one year in the league. Watt could be the next big name to say goodbye to football before his abilities begin to erode, but at this point, given the prevalence of major injuries and the new knowledge about brain injuries, can you really blame him?