JJ Watt Released From Houston Texans After Both Sides Agree to Part Ways

J.J. Watt, multi-time Pro Bowler, and the Houston Texans have mutually agreed to part ways amid a tumultuous offseason for the NFL team.

News of Watt's release from the team came early Friday as sources told NFL.com's Ian Rappaport that the Texans would release its best defensive player in the franchise's history.

jj watt nfl houston texans
JJ Watt before a game against Chicago on 12/13/2020 Stacy Revere

Shortly afterward, Watt himself took to social media to tell everyone that he sat down with the McNair family, the owners of the team, and asked for his release. Watt said that the two sides came to an agreement and that this would mark the end of his tenure in Houston.

He also offered a heartfelt thanks to the fans and the city of Houston, for the past 10 years of support.

Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me... pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021

The Texans released a statement following Watt's announcement to make it official.

"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. "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."

Watt was drafted 11th overall in the 2011 draft by the Texans out of Wisconsin University and, in his 10 years with Houston, he garnered plenty of awards and records.

The 31-year-old has won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, selected for five Pro Bowls—the NFL's All-Star Game—and was the NFL sack leader in two seasons. Watt holds the Texans' record for sacks (101).

Following a 2019 season wherein the Texans won the AFC South before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Houston had a sub-par 2020, going 4-12.

Head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien was fired after the team's 0-4 start, which was only the beginning of the Texans' down year. Before his ousting, O'Brien traded Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. This move was reportedly the start of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson's displeasure with the franchise.

Watson later asked to be traded from the team when ownership seemingly disregarded his opinions on who the franchise should hire to fill the general manager role.

The quarterback reportedly asked for either Pittsburgh Steelers Vice President of Football and Business Administration Omar Khan or ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Louis Ridick to be considered for the GM position. However, the Texans reportedly didn't consider or consult either men for the job.

The Texans eventually hired Nick Caserio to be general manager, a move that Watson reacted to, in a now-deleted tweet, by saying, "some things never change."

Watson signed a four-year $156 million contract before the 2020 season. The quarterback has a no-trade clause in his contract, giving him say on which teams he would want to be traded to.

With the 2021 NFL Draft set for late April, the Texans are now without their defensive leader and are clearly in "rebuild" mode. What this means for Watson is unclear. There are plenty of teams in need of a quarterback who have high draft picks, but it's up to the right deal for the Texans and whether Watson will want to be traded to the team in question.