J.J. Watt opens door to play for Texans, former teammate DeMeco Ryans

The Houston Texans‘ revival has caught J.J. Watt’s attention.

Houston Texans' J.J. Watt done rehabbing back, cleared for football - ESPN

The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year hasn’t played since 2022. But if Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans gives him a call, he’s willing to consider coming out of retirement. He discussed his potential return to football while speaking at a charity event in Houston on Saturday.

“I’m a very fortunate, lucky man,” Watt said, per the Houston Chronicle. “I have a beautiful wife, I have a beautiful son, I’ve had 12 great years in this league and I’m very thankful to have walked away healthy and playing great.

“I told DeMeco last year; I said, ‘Don’t call unless you absolutely need it. But if you ever do call, I’ll be there.’ And he knows not to call unless he absolutely needs it.”

DeMeco Ryans on Texans' ugly defensive breakdowns in loss to Colts: 'We weren't good enough'

Watt played 10 of his 12 NFL seasons in Houston Texans. He played his rookie season alongside Ryans, who made two Pro Bowls with the Texans as a linebacker then returned last season as their head coach. He led the Texans to an AFC South championship and a playoff win over Cleveland Browns.

J.J. Watt's already been enshrined into the Texans Ring of Honor. Would he return to play with his named already emblazoned at NRG Stadium? (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Armed with reigning Rookie of the Year quarterback C.J. Stroud, reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. and a stable of weapons, the Texans project to compete for the AFC South title and beyond for the foreseeable future. Could Watt — who experienced just three playoff wins in his certain Hall of Fame career — really be tempted to return to play for his former teammate?

He’s 35 years old and says he’s keeping in football shape. But there’s an expiration date on his offer.

“This is the last year I’ll tell him that, because I’m not going to keep training the way I’ve been training,” Watt continued. “But he knows that if he ever truly does need it, I’ll be there for him. I don’t anticipate that happening because they have a very good group.”

So what would entail the Texans “absolutely” needing Watt? Does that mean an injury to a key pass rusher? Struggles on defense early in the season?

And could Watt still contribute? He certainly did in his final NFL season while racking up 12.5 sacks in 16 games with the Arizona Cardinals in 2022. The Texans would almost certainly welcome him back with open arms if they “absolutely” deemed that he was needed. Will Ryans make that call?

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