Almost immediately after three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and five-time First-Team All-Pro J.J. Watt announced that he was signing with the Arizona Cardinals on a two-year deal that could be worth up to $31 million, some fans and observers took to Twitter to claim they believed the veteran who turns 32 years old later this month cared more about earning one last massive NFL payday than about chasing a Super Bowl ring.
According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Phoenix, the Cardinals didn't make Watt the largest offer among suitors after the Houston Texans officially released the defensive star on Feb. 12:
The deal JJ Watt signed with the Cardinals was NOT the most he was offered. The Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts each offered more money. Tennessee's offer was very similar.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) March 1, 2021
It's practically guaranteed neither the Cleveland Browns nor the Indianapolis Colts will confirm or deny this report, and some soon attempted to shoot it down:
We’ve now been told by 3 different people that the colts never made an offer! Made a call to field the market and it never got further!— Colts Brawl Coverage (@Colts_Coverage) March 2, 2021
Considering the reported size of the contract Watt signed coupled with rumors that alleged character concerns may have been hovering over his status this winter, it's easy to believe some contending teams could have been scared off in negotiations, particularly at a time when the salary cap is likely going down because of financial losses endured during the past season held amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's also possible Watt chose lifestyle and a reunion with former Houston teammate and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins over playing for a team that finished the 2020 campaign with a better record than Arizona.