There has been much speculation in recent years about J.J. Watt’s desire to play for his hometown Green Bay Packers. But did he want to retire with the Packers?
In February 2021, Watt was released from the Houston Texans, a team where he had spent his entire career up until that point. His release sparked immediate rumors about where the star defensive end might end up next. Many Green Bay Packers fans were hopeful that Watt would choose to sign with the Packers, given his Wisconsin roots and affinity for the team.
Watt was born and raised in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, just 110 miles from Lambeau Field, where the Packers play. He played college football at the University of Wisconsin and has been known to show support for the Packers on social media. In 2019, he tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Packers shirt with the caption “Dreams never die.”
Despite the rumors and fan speculation, it remains unclear whether Watt actually wanted to retire with the Packers. In a tweet announcing his release from the Texans, Watt expressed his gratitude for his time with the team and his excitement for the next chapter of his career, but did not mention any specific interest in signing with the Packers or any other team.
When asked about the potential for Watt to join the Packers during a press conference, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst was hesitant to give a definitive answer. He acknowledged that the team was interested in Watt but that it was still too early to tell whether a deal would be possible.
Ultimately, Watt signed with the Arizona Cardinals in March 2021, ending the speculation about his potential Free Agent signing and retirement destination. He signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth $31 million, with $23 million guaranteed, and expressed excitement about the fit with his new team.
While it’s unclear whether or not Watt ever seriously considered retiring with the Green Bay Packers, the rumors and speculation speak to the level of support and admiration he has from fans in his home state of Wisconsin. Regardless of whether he ever dons the green and gold, Watt remains one of the most successful and beloved NFL players to come from the Badger State.