HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) — DeAndre Hopkins might’ve been the most active player on the Houston Texans in recruiting free agents, but it was J.J. Watt who helped land the prize of the class.
Tyrann Mathieu, the former All Pro safety with the Arizona Cardinals, said in his introductory press conference today at NRG Stadium, his relationship with Watt was a big factor in his decision.
“I knew J.J. (Watt) for a couple years,” Mathieu said. “Me and him actually share the same agent and we’ve had a couple lunches together. We’ve been able to communicate via phone, via text, social media, things like that.”
There were plenty of reasons to sign with the Texans, Mathieu said. Deshaun Watson, Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel and Jadeveon Clowney were all singled out during the press conference.
But the communication that he had with Watt, a three time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, played a big role in getting him here.
“I just wanted to come to a group where guys were hungry,” Mathieu said. “Obviously I’m very hungry at this point in my career. I wanted to come to a team that had great potential, a team that was dominant on defense and I think I made the right choice.”
In fact, Mathieu didn’t even meet with Coach O’Brien before agreeing to the deal. When asked about O’Brien’s role in getting the FA here Mathieu said “My first time meeting him was actually last night. He’s a great guy, great coach, obviously. He’s coached a long time in this league. Just him wanting me here, it definitely encouraged me.”
If healthy, the Texans defense should be one of the best in the NFL this season. It could even be the best of Crennel’s storied career.
But durability is a major concern with a handful of impact players on defense, maybe most prominently Watt and Mathieu.
Watt is coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries, including a broken leg that cost him all of 2017. Mathieu was able to stay on the field last season, but suffered torn ACLs in 2013 and 2015.
The good news: Clowney has managed to stay mostly healthy the past two years, after being plagued with injuries in his first two.
Mathieu said he’s excited by the possibilities and why he signed with the Texans when offered more money from other teams.
“Well, I think at this point in my career, obviously getting released on the beginning of the new league year, I felt like I had to make a decision fast, but I wanted to make a safe decision. I wanted to make one that I was comfortable with, like I mentioned. I think coming back down south, obviously I’m closer to my family. I think that played a part. I can’t say it enough, I get to play with (Jadeveon) Clowney and (J.J.) Watt. I can just stand in the middle of the field. I’m going to have a lot of fun.”