The Houston Texans have released three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, first reported by NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.
In a move that’s sending shockwaves throughout the NFL, Houston's release of Watt is the latest episode of what appears to be an ongoing saga of both roster and front office rearrangement.
Watt’s release was agreed upon by both sides, as the all-pro pass rusher has voiced his desire for clarity on his NFL future, given the recent coaching changes within the Texans’ camp.
Watt tweeted a video statement shortly after it was announced he was leaving Houston.
“I want to speak directly to you, and the city of Houston so you can hear the words straight from my mouth. I have sat down with the [Texans owner Janice] McNair family and asked for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time,” Watt says.
After playing two seasons as a DE with the Wisconsin Badgers, Watt was drafted 11th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Texans, and during his time in Houston, Watt’s career accolades have placed him in the upper echelon of NFL royalty.
“The way that you guys [Texans fans] have treated me—besides draft night, you guys boo’ed me on draft night—but every day after that you treated me like family, and I truly feel like you’re my family,” Watt continues. “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. Thank you, Houston. I love you.”
The Texans organization released a statement on their website, acknowledging Watt’s release and thanking him for his time in Houston. “Simply put, there has been no person in the past decade who has made a greater impact on the Texans organization than J.J. Watt,” Texans Co-Founder and Senior Chair Janice S. McNair says in the statement. “J.J.'s dominance on the field was unprecedented and resulted in countless moments that will go down in Texans history.”
At this time, it is unclear where the Texans’ all-time sack leader will play next.
However, Watt’s departure may further induce star quarterback Deshaun Watson to seek employment elsewhere. Watson reportedly requested a trade in January, yet the Texans have stated that they have zero interest in letting go of their franchise QB.
The Washington Football team is in the market for a quarterback. Whether or not they fully pursue Watson this offseason is unclear as of yet. Still, it appears as though the Texans organization is in a state of a total rebuild, making Watson an eye-catching prospect. Matthew Stafford’s recent deal with the Los Angeles Rams undoubtedly drives up the Texans’ asking price for Watson, likely making him the most expensive target in the NFL this offseason.