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Houston Texans Release Star Defensive Lineman J.J. Watt

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The Houston Texans have released star defensive lineman J.J. Watt, after he requested a his release from the team he announced on social media on Friday.


Watt, 31, played 10 seasons for the Texas after they made him the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and Watt became one of the greatest defensive players of his generation.

Watt is one of only three players ever to win the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times. He’s been an eight-time All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler, led the NFL in sacks twice and was a unanimous member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

Watt started all 16 games for the Texans in 2020 for the seventh time in his career. He recorded five sacks, 14 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits, forced two fumbles, recovered one and had an interception. It was statistically the least productive full season of Watt’s career.

Things soured between Watt and the Texans throughout the 2020 season, as he frequently expressed public displeasure with the team’s continued losing and apparent lack of direction.

“I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity and working extremely hard,” Watt said. “But at the same time, it is always tough to move on. I just want (Texans fans) 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. Thank you Houston, I love you.”


Watt’s two brothers, outside linebacker T.J. Watt and fullback Derek Watt, both play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are expected to have an opening on their defensive line with tackle Tyson Alualu set to hit free agency. T.J. Watt made a public call for the third Watt brother to join the others in Pittsburgh.

With a month to go before the start of the new league year, the Steelers are about $24 million over the 2021 salary cap.

NFL

NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt

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One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.

Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.

Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.

For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.

Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).

Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.

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NFL

NFL Hosting Women’s Careers in Football Forum

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The NFL is hosting its fifth annual Women’s Careers in Football Forum from Feb. 24-25, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.

The event will be held virtually and “connect 40 women, 75% of whom are women of color, with leaders in professional football to help those women network and build relationships in the areas of coaching, scouting and football operations.”

Those participating in the event will join panel discussions, breakout sessions and have networking opportunities with industry leaders, such as head coaches and team executives. All portions of the event are aimed at building connections that will result in hirings and subsequent representation.

Since its inception in 2017, the two-day event has assisted in developing “a more diverse talent pipeline by connecting high-potential women to career opportunities in football.” According to the league, 118 opportunities for women in football have been created as a result.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and wife Jane Skinner Goodell will speak, as well as NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte. In addition, three owners, seven head coaches and six general managers will also join the conversation.

Sarah Thomas made history earlier this month becoming the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. The champion Tamp Bay Buccaneers also had a record number of women on their coaching staff this past season.

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Report: 2021 NFL Salary Cap Expected at $182-183 Million

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The 2021 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $182 or $183 million, according to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

That is just slightly above the bare-minimum figure of $180 million agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA last week, and aligns with Steelers Now sources that predict the cap will fall between $180 and $185 million.

The Steelers are one of several teams that will be significantly over the salary cap, regardless of what figure is.


According to Pro Football Talk, those teams have been lobbying to increase the 2021 salary cap at the expense of future years to minimize the impact the pandemic has had on NFL operations.

Doing so would essentially amount to an interest-free loan given by the owners to the players, something that some owners have balked at.

That final figure could still be impacted by the league signing new television contracts for the 2022 season before the salary cap is finalized, which is expected some time in March.


The new league year starts on March 17, which is the day that all teams must be under the new salary cap.

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