Though J.J. Watt Is Adamant He’s Retired, Ike Taylor Tells Him To Stay Ready: ‘You Might Get That Phone Call’

J.J. Watt is convinced he’s retired. He’s spending time with family, he’s getting involved with soccer, he wants to start a podcast with T.J. (sorry, Derek).

Ike Taylor? He’s less convinced. And though the odds of Watt playing for the Steelers are very, very low, Taylor wants him to remain on the ready.

On the latest episode of Taylor’s Bleav In Steelers podcast with co-host Mark Bergin, Taylor had a message for Watt. 

“Hey J.J, just stay in shape,” Taylor said. “You might get that phone call throughout the year. Go on and stay in shape. Just in case.”

J.J. announced his retirement after the 2022 season, seemingly wrapping up a Hall of Fame career, though one that was hampered by injuries and prevented him from putting up even bigger numbers.

Ever since he became a free agent when the Houston Texans released him after the 2020 season, fans have tried to dot-connect him to Pittsburgh to play with his brothers. At the time, Pittsburgh had T.J. and Derek on the roster. Currently, Derek is a free agent and unlikely to return to the Steelers.

J.J. admitted there was a brief conversation with his brother about playing for Pittsburgh after he hit free agency. But it wasn’t a feasible possibility and he signed with the Arizona Cardinals instead, spending the last two seasons there. He proved he could still play, finishing 2022 with a whopping 12.5 sacks. He recently said his body feels good enough to post another double-digit season, though he’s largely shot down the idea of coming back to the league. Still, Taylor made the case.

“Picture the two Watts on both ends of the stick coming off the edge,” Taylor said. “J.J. a future Hall of Famer, put your helmet on alongside with your brother T.J., trying to make a playoff push. I’m just saying.”

Tomlin and J.J. recently had a Twitter interaction with J.J. praising Tomlin. In response, Tomlin invited J.J. to the team’s facility whenever he wanted.

While rumors will persist, there’s still no evidence Watt will actually unretire to play for anyone, let alone in Pittsburgh. It’s at least worth noting Watt is a free agent and the Cardinals don’t retain his rights meaning that if he wanted to come back to the league, there’s no logistical hurdles for him to jump through. He can just unretire and sign.

Downplaying the odds of that happening is important and we want to stress that there. But Taylor is on the inside of the Steelers’ operations, an assistant scout, so his words carry a little extra weight now. Stay tuned.

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