Never say never about J.J. Watt coming out of retirement to play for the Steelers

Steelers, J.J. Watt
Steelers, J.J. Watt / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Watt is supposedly retired from football. Yet, for a man who claims to have retired for good, why does he seem to be setting himself up for a return? If so, will he come back to play a season alongside his baby brother T.J. Watt?

In fairness, J.J. Watt has not given specific indications he plans to return to football and has even addressed the rumors, which seems to squelch the notion. However, for a man who claims to have hung up the cleats for good, he is emitting mixed signals, which at least makes one wonder how truthful he is being, at least in terms of wanting to stay retired.

He probably would have signed with the Steelers over Arizona in 2021, but he did not. He mainly felt that signing with the Steelers could hurt T.J. Watt’s negotiations for a new contract. He then opted for Arizona, and T.J. Watt became the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, but that does not mean he couldn’t sign a deal to play one year alongside his baby brother, something fans would love.

Why would J.J. Watt play for the Steelers

If he returns to football, one would think, he is setting himself up to return as a member of the Steelers for at least two reasons. First, he, for whatever reason, made it known he is joining Steelers Nation in his retirement. He could have done it privately without making it newsworthy, but he did it anyway. That by itself fueled some speculation.

Secondly, on his Twitter feed, J.J. tweeted earlier this month that Mile Tomlin is an incredible man. He loves hearing T.J., and Derek share stories about his leadership. He then ended the tweet by saying he hopes to visit sometime if they allow it. Mike Tomlin uncharacteristically responded by stating he was welcome at facilities at any time.

The interesting thing is that Tomlin did something he rarely does. He is not a guy that likes to speculate on stuff. That said, perhaps it was just a simple, innocent response from Tomlin, yet Tomlin, anytime he speaks in public, is very calculated about what he says. This makes one wonder why he would even open the doors to be asked about it by the media.

Thus, it makes one wonder if some back-door wooing is happening here. Perhaps the Steelers are trying to test the waters to see if there is a possibility they could land him. Or they are trying to leave the door open to signing him if they have a rash of injuries.

Why J.J. Watt would not join the Steelers

There could be a few factors to indicate he won't. First, outside of Tomlin's response on Twitter, there are no active contract talks (that we know of) J.J. Watt has not said to anyone I want to come out of retirement and play for the Steelers (that we know of). All we are sure of is that he wants to stay retired and root for T.J. Watt.

Secondly, Derek Watt has not re-signed a new deal with the Steelers or any other team. There is not much demand for a 30-year-old fullback in the NFL. Would J.J. want to return to football if it’s not to play with all of them together? It’s hard to say, but one might have to think not. Although it’s not beyond the pale, if J.J. did choose to sign with the Steelers they could coax Derek back quickly. But that would lead to a quandary in that what would happen to the Heyward brothers? That could make Connor Heyward expendable for the wrong reasons.

Finally, J.J. Watt is on the record saying he’s not training as he once did, and if he signed, he wants to make a difference, and he does not think that could happen now. In conjunction, what would the Steelers have to pay him? They could not give him a huge contract if they did want him. Finally, would it be prudent to bring in a 34-year-old defensive end? How much could he bring to the team? He wouldn’t be a starter, and they would play him on situational downs. Really signing him would be more to make fans happy than improving the team in any significant way.

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As much as some of you would love to see J.J. Watt play alongside T.J. Watt for one year, it’s likely not going to happen. Still, if the rumors persist, people will write articles speculating about it. However, as screen actor Sean Connery said when he retired from playing James Bond about whether he would ever reprise the role, he said never say never. Then a few years later, he returned as James Bond in Never Say Never Again, reprising his role. So while it may be tempting to say J.J. Watt will never come out of retirement, we might not want to say never just yet.