“I have sat down with the McNair family and I have asked them for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time,” Watt said in a video posted to Twitter.
Watt was drafted by the Texans in 2011 with the No. 11 pick and became the face of the franchise, winning three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2012-15. Watt is one of three players to win that award three times.
Watt is coming off just his second 16-game season since 2015, as he has dealt with several season-ending injuries since then.
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me… pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
In 2020, Watt ranked 15th out of 119 qualified pass rushers in Pass Rush Win Rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He finished the season with five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception he returned for a touchdown.
Watt is by far the most productive pass rusher in Texans history, with 101 career sacks. There have only been two players in team history with more than 30 career sacks (Whitney Mercilus with 54 and Mario Williams with 53) since the franchise’s first season in 2002.
During the season, Watt made it clear he was not interested in playing for a team going through a “rebuild.”
“I don’t think it’s any secret that I don’t have 10 years left in this league,” Watt said in November. “I personally believe that I do have a few more great ones left in me. But you also can’t … I’m not looking to rebuild. I’m looking to go after a championship, and that’s what I want to do.”
When asked at the end of the season whether he felt the 2021 Texans would be in rebuilding-mode, Watt said there are “so many unknown factors to that situation right now that you can’t definitively say that.”
Watt is entering the final season of his contract he signed in 2014. He is owed $17.5 million in 2021, although the salary is not guaranteed.