J.J. Watt declares launch from Houston Texans – Arizona Sports activities
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) walk off the field after an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. The Titans won 41-38. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt announced in a video posted to his social media Friday that he has mutually agreed to part ways with the Houston Texans.
In a tweet posted shortly after the news broke, he addressed Houston fans about the decision, expressing his love for the city.
“I wanted to do this on video … because I want you guys to hear directly from me,” Watt said. “I have sat down with the McNair family, I have asked them for my release and we have mutually agreed to part ways at this time.
“I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity and I’ve been working extremely hard. At the same time, it’s always tough to move on.”
Watt’s departure skips ahead of an expected loss of star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who requested a trade but remains on the team.
If Watson is traded, the last image of both the quarterback and Watt on the field will be that of Watt apologizing to Watson in earshot of microphones.
“I’m sorry. We wasted one of your years. I mean, we should have 11 wins,” Watt was heard telling the Texans quarterback after the 2020 finale.
Houston’s ownership, led by Cal McNair, has received heavy criticism after the failed Bill O’Brien tenure that spiraled most notably last offseason with the trade of receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals.
The team fired O’Brien mid-year, and since then its front office culture, which has been influenced by executive vice president of team development Jack Easterby, has been under the spotlight in features by Sports Illustrated and others.
Hopkins, Watt and Watson aren’t the only high-profile leaders on the team who have departed.
Departures from Houston since Jack Easterby was hired in April 2019:
– GM Brian Gaine
– WR DeAndre Hopkins
– HC Bill O’Brien
– Head of PR Amy Palcic
– President Jamey Rootes
– Team captain JJ Watt
Each move deserves individual evaluation… but just look at those job titles.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 12, 2021
McNair on Friday released a statement upon the announcement of 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,” McNair said in a release. “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, who will turn 32 next month, is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, five-time Pro Bowler and two-time league sack leader.
Though he’s battled injuries by playing less than half the schedule in three of the past five seasons, Watt was plenty productive in 2020. He posted 52 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and seven passes defensed last year.
A few notable Cardinals players reacted to the news of Watt’s release on Friday morning.