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Texans release J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt, Texans

In a bit of a stunner, the Houston Texans released defensive end J.J. Watt on Friday.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network first reported the news, and then Watt soon followed up with a video announcing the it himself:

While the Deshaun Watson trade drama has taken center stage in Houston, there were also plenty of questions surrounding Watt’s future with the franchise. But instead of a trade, Watt is simply getting released after he asked for it:

Watt is hoping to continue playing elsewhere after spending the first 10 seasons of his career in Houston. The 31-year-old Watt entered the NFL as the No. 11 pick of the Texans in the 2011 NFL Draft. He immediately took the league by storm, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and then again in 2014 and 2015. The stud defensive end racked up the most sacks in the NFL in 2012 and 2014, becoming the only player in history to record 20.5 sacks in separate seasons.

After the dominant stretch to start his career, Watt has broken down a bit in recent years. He appeared in all 16 games in two of the last five seasons, including 2020, but he combined to play in just 16 games in the other three campaigns. The veteran had 52 combined tackles and 5.0 sacks for the struggling Texans this past season.

As Houston scuffled in 2020, the signs pointed to a fresh start for Watt. That has now come to fruition, and the Texans will save a good amount of cash and cap space by releasing him:

Houston is in the midst of a franchise overhaul in the front office, on the coaching staff and on the field. With Watt now gone, we continue to wait and see if Watson will get dealt.