Sports

J.J. Watt Announces He’s Leaving The Texans

The star defensive end was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) is seen during pregame warmups before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston.

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Updated 9:45 a.m. CT

J.J. Watt requested and was granted his release from the Houston Texans, the NFL star announced in a video posted to social media Friday.

The defensive end had one year remaining on a 6-year, $100 million contract.

“I want to speak directly to you, in the city of Houston, to hear the words straight from my month,” Watt said in the video. “I have sat down with the McNair family, I have asked them for my release, and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time.”

Watt was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He is the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, and holds a slew of Texans records, including forced fumbles, tackles for loss and quarterback hits.

The star defensive end is a five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

In addition to his on-the-field accolades, Watt raised more than $40 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017, helping to repair and rebuild hundreds of homes and childcare centers, and provide support for after school programs.

The Texans confirmed the news in a statement on their website.

“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,” said Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. “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.”

It’s just the latest news in an offseason of upheaval for the Texans. The team hired head coach David Culley and general manager Nick Caserio to replace Bill O'Brien, who held both jobs and was fired after the team opened the season 0-4. They’re also facing uncertainty at quarterback after star Deshaun Watson requested a trade.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Additional reporting from the Associated Press.

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Paul DeBenedetto

Paul DeBenedetto

Senior Producer

Paul DeBenedetto is Houston Public Media's senior digital producer, writing and editing stories for HoustonPublicMedia.org. Before joining the station, Paul worked as a web producer for the Houston Chronicle, and his work has appeared online and in print for the Chronicle, the New York Times, DNAinfo New York, and other...

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