Houston Texans Release J. J. Watt at His Request

Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt (99) looks on before a January game against the Tennessee Titans in Houston. (Photograph: Matt Patterson/AP)

The Houston Texans have released star defensive end J.J. Watt, granting his request.

Watt was drafted by the Texans in 2011 with the No. 11 pick and became the face of the franchise, winning three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2012 to ’15. Watt is one of three players to win that award three times.

“I have sat down with the McNair family and I have asked them for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time,” Watt said in a video posted to Twitter. “I came here 10 years ago as a kid from Wisconsin who’d never really been to Texas before. And now I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it. The way that you guys have treated me, besides draft night. I mean, you guys booed me on draft night. But every day after that, you treated me like family. And I truly feel like you’re my family.

“… I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity, and I’ve been working extremely hard. But at the same time, it is always tough to move on. And I just want you guys to know that I love you. I appreciate you. I appreciate the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL.”

Watt is coming off just his second 16-game season since 2015, as he has dealt with several season-ending injuries since then.

“Change is never easy, especially when it involves the ones you love. J.J.’s impact on not only our organization, but the entire Houston community, is unlike any player in our franchise’s history,” Texans chair and CEO Cal McNair said in a prepared statement. “I told J.J. earlier this week that we will forever consider him a Texan. We take solace in knowing that this is not a goodbye but a ‘see you soon.’ For now, we will build upon the foundation that J.J. created here and forge ahead with our unwavering mission to bring a championship to our city, create memorable experiences for our fans and do great things for Houston.”

In 2020, Watt ranked 15th out of 119 qualified pass-rushers in pass rush win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He finished the season with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown.

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SOURCE: ESPN, Sarah Barshop

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