Watt has confirmed the news via his Twitter account:
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me… pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
In the video, Watt says he met with ownership and requested his release.
“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.
Here’s a statement from Texans’ ownership regarding Watt’s release:
“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,” said Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. “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.”
“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,” said Co-Founder and Senior Chair Janice S. McNair. “J.J.’s dominance on the field was unprecedented and resulted in countless moments that will go down in Texans history. To me, what best represents J.J.’s connection to Houston is his tradition of playing catch with the fans before every home game. The number of people who wear #99 jerseys with smiles on their faces totally encapsulated J.J.’s passion for bonding with Texans fans at every possible opportunity. His commitment to the community is unlike any player in NFL history. We are forever grateful to J.J. and his family.”
According to Rapoport, the Texans could have traded Watt and received a “solid draft pick” but they ultimately decided to grant him his release.
Rapoport previously reported that the Texans were aware that Watt deserved clarity regarding his future in Houston and it was something both sides want to figure out.
Watt’s name came up as a potential trade option dating back to last year and it was clear that his time in Houston was likely to come to an end at some point this offseason.
Watt, 31, is a former first-round pick of the Texans back in 2011. He was in the final year of his eight-year, $108.88 million contract that includes $51.8 million guaranteed.
Watt was owed a non-guaranteed base salary of $17.5 million in 2021.
In 2020, Watt appeared in all 16 games for the Texans and recorded 52 tackles, five sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, a recovery, a defensive touchdown and seven passes defended.