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Former Houston Texans star J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

The team announced the deal with the free-agent edge rusher on Monday. Watt was released last month by the Houston Texans, for whom he won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press that the total package is worth $31 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal any terms.

A five-time All-Pro, Watt – who turns 32 in three weeks – has been one of the NFL’s best players for a decade, but asked out in Houston, which is undergoing a roster upheaval. Watt joins another former Texans star, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, in Arizona. Hopkins was acquired by the Cardinals in a one-sided trade a year ago.

Watt had one year remaining on a six-year, $100 million contract with the Texans.

Though he has been plagued by injuries in recent years, Watt started all 128 games in which he appeared in the past 10 years after entering the league as Houston’s first-round selection, 11th overall, in the 2011 draft out of Wisconsin. In 2017, he was selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his work in helping Houston recover from Hurricane Harvey. Watt, who long has been lauded for his humanitarian efforts, helped raise more than $40 million in hurricane relief in 2017.

He was the league’s top defensive player in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Then injuries began to slow him. He appeared in only three games in 2016 and five the next season, sidelined by back problems and then a broken leg. In 2019, Watt missed half of the schedule with a torn pectoral muscle.

He returned to play the entire 2020 season and was effective, though not dominant.

So the Cardinals likely are not getting a vintage Watt, the only player in NFL history with 20 or more sacks and 10 or more passes defended in a single season, doing it in both 2012 and 2014. He’s tied for fifth among defensive lineman in league history with six touchdowns in the regular season, including three TD catches. He has 101 career sacks, and over the past decade leads the league in tackles for losses (172), quarterback hits (281), multi-sack games (26) and sack yards (713 1-2).

WASHINGTON: Veteran quarterback Alex Smith and Washington are expected to part ways with  in the coming days, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, ending Smith’s storied comeback with the team after one season.

After returning from a compound leg fracture he suffered during a game in November of 2018, Smith went 5-1 as a starter last season to lead Washington on a four-game winning streak that helped it clinch an NFC East title – its first in five years.

Although Smith has said he plans to make a decision about his future in football during the offseason, he has strongly hinted in multiple interviews that he wants to continue playing. He said that his performance last season “only emboldened me that I can play at this level” and “I still feel like I have more left to go gain” on the field.

TEXANS: Houston released veteran quarterback Josh McCown, likely ending his 18-year NFL career.

CHIEFS: Kansas City expects Patrick Mahomes to be ready for offseason workouts following surgery on his toe, and they are optimistic that offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz could be available for the start of training camp.

Mahomes had surgery on Feb. 10, shortly after the Chiefs were walloped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, to repair a turf toe injury that had hobbled him throughout the playoffs. The recovery time is about three months, which means Mahomes – whose fiancée recently gave birth to their first child – could be ready for summer minicamp.


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