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.”
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me… pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
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.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) February 12, 2021
With a month to go before the start of the new league year, the Steelers are about $24 million over the 2021 salary cap.