Texans Release J.J. Watt

The Texans have released J.J. Watt. Watt, 32 in March, recently suggested that he does not want to be part of a rebuild. Now, he’ll have the opportunity to join a contender. In a video posted to Twitter, Watt reflected fondly on his time in Houston and thanked fans for their years of support. 

I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it. The way you guys treated me — besides draft night, you guys booed me on draft night — every day after that you treated me like family and I truly feel like you are my family,” Watt said. “Since that day, I have tried to do everything in my power to work and earn your respect, and try and make you proud on and off the field. You guys have given me everything and more, and I can only hope that you feel like I’ve given you everything I have.

With a new coaching staff and front office, things were already expected to look a whole lot different in Houston next season. In the last year, the Texans have parted ways with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, head coach Bill O’Brien, executive GM Brian Gaine, and longtime president Jamey RootesEven if the Texans don’t trade Deshaun Watson, they’ll be down at least one superstar in 2021.

Change is never easy, especially when it involves the ones you love,” Texas CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “J.J.’s impact on not only our organization, but the entire Houston community, is unlike any player in our franchise’s history. 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, a self described “kid from Wisconsin,” was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He went on to appear in 128 games for the Texans across ten seasons, earning five Pro Bowl nods, multiple First-Team All-Pro selections, and three DPOY trophies. He leaves Houston as the team’s all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles for loss (172), quarterback hits (281), and forced fumbles (25).

Per the terms of Watt’s contract — a record-breaker, at the time of signing in 2014 — Watt was set to earn $17.5MM in 2021, which would have been his walk year. However, that sum was completely non-guaranteed, so the Texans will be left with $0 in dead money as they begin a brand new era.

There have been rumblings about a Watt departure, but the news is stunning nonetheless. Watt resonated with Houstonians in a way that few athletes ever have. Between Watt’s impressive work on the field and his humanitarian efforts off of the field, he’ll always be beloved in Texas, even as he finishes his career elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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94 comments on “Texans Release J.J. Watt

    • doobiejc

      Someone iconic as watt, best to let him do what he wants. He’s giving everything to the city.

        • jjabrony

          No you don’t get comped for cutting a guy during his contract, only for losing a high priced free agent.

          • beerncheese

            He has been awesome on and off the field. Agent will be getting calls from most teams. Short list of who doesn’t want him at the right price. Packers are a great fit and all the fans want to see it but there will be a lot of stiff competition. I’m thinking 3 year contract with 24 mil guaranteed. Any guesses?

      • This is silly. You don’t cut a guy and not try to trade him because he’s been ‘iconic’. You can ask him for a short list of desired destinations and try to work out a deal, but to just cut him and get nothing in return out of some service to the player is dumb.

        What probably happened, at least what I hope happened, is that they couldn’t work out a deal with anyone. I find it hard to believe, but I hope that’s what happened.

        • Ak185

          Rct is correct. The trade, for some reason, did not work. There’s no way a team missing as many picks as Houston did not at least try.

        • slapnuts

          “… and get nothing.” They got zero dead money. If they would’ve traded him, his contract would’ve had to been guaranteed. Then they’d have $17.5 mil in dead money on the books. They got the best deal they could’ve gotten by releasing him

    • Buster79

      The colts cut Manning too instead of trying to trade him. Speaking of Colts, they have enough money to sign him.

    • madmanTX

      Yep and on the cheap too just to play with his brothers and a contender…for one more year at least.

        • sgtschmidt11

          So a playoff team that started the year 11-0 isn’t a playoff contender?

          Interesting…

          • mrjjbond

            While they certainly aren’t the only team in a bad cap situation, it doesn’t help their hopes of contention at all that they’re over the cap by $23-$24M before replacing any of their FAs and accounting for their rookie contracts.

    • slapnuts

      Nah, I believe he wants to win a ring more than he wants to play with his brothers

  1. yankeejim

    Dumbest freakin organization in sports. Going to be lots of empty seats until Cal the moron sells.

  2. BG99

    Hmmmm…doesn’t Watt go on waivers with his release?
    If so, what’s to prevent a lesser team from claiming him?

    • James

      No since the football season is over he automatically becomes a free agent if they released him during the season then yes he would go on waivers

    • frank858

      No when released he became an unrestricted free agent, allowed to sign with whom ever he chooses.

  3. joeyrocafella

    Next season gonna be rough… Without Watt, and Fuller, and possibly without Watson… And they got nothing in return for Watt, just some cap relief

  4. ruckus727

    I can’t recall a time in recent memory that a relatively well respected team has been completely derailed and destroyed as quickly as the Houston Texans has. The Bill O’Brien disaster is the gift that never stops giving. Make no mistake – this, and the Watson thing – are both residual effects of the O’Brien carnage.

    • RyanO

      As crazy as it sounds, things have gotten exponentially worse since Bill left.

      He was terrible as GM but was a very good coach who at least won games. Since he left things have completely gone off the rails, the owner Cal seems absolutely clueless.

      • astrosfansince1974

        A “good” coach? That “good” coach never could win a big game

      • The Texans were off the rails well before BOB left. BOB destroyed the team. To extend the metaphor, BOB derailed them and instead of trying to get back on track, the FO decided to build a new one that led straight off a cliff.

        This level of incompetence is a rare thing. Enjoy it while you can.

    • jjd002

      Don’t forget Easterby in this…. that guy is going to end up owning the team somehow.

  5. BG99

    He’s struggled to stay healthy in recent years, playing a combined 16 games in 2016, 2017, and 2019. He played out the full 2018 and 2020 seasons.

    • rkmarx

      Why would he go to the Jets? They may be the only team worse than the Texans.

      • DarkSide830

        yeah I dont see why people think the Jets are up anc coming yet. they are still a bit away from competing.

  6. j_butte

    That makes sense if he’s chasing a ring lol. He’s going to the Packers or Steelers, guaranteed.

  7. mcdusty49

    Tough to see his time in Houston end so unceremoniously but that’s the business side of the game…despite all the grumbling about how bad this is for Houston need to realize that neither Watt or Watson are going to singlehandedly win them a ring. Hopefully they’re able to make the best of a trade package for Watson and get things turned around in a couple seasons

    • Cosmodogs

      I highly doubt that, unless he is willing to play for close the league minimum. The Steelers are in real cap trouble, especially with the cap falling this season.

      • padam

        Pouncy retired. Ben willing to renegotiate. Smith probably gone. They’d get it done.

    • frank858

      Yes there is, it’s called being over 30 million over the cap. Possibly more when we find out the salary cap total for 2021 season.

  8. Loren Polonsky

    The “kid from Wisconsin” needs to come home. Perhaps Mike Holmgren can call him up and say, “JJ. This is God. Come to Green Bay.”

    • luckybrew

      Mike Holmgren isn’t the coach in Green Bay anymore he’s the Cowboys coach. He’s is interested in playing for Green Bay because he’s from Wisconsin and will probably sign at a discount to be a Packer.

      • Loren Polonsky

        That’s McCarthy. You’re off about 20 years. I’m quoting Mike Holmgren’s answering machine message to Reggie White. Look it up.

  9. ChristianRocker

    Titans or Seahawks could definitely use him, Falcons too probably. He would make any teams defense better in all fairness though.

    • joeshmoe11

      I don’t know the Titans’ cap situation but they would make a boatload of sense

  10. djc1877

    I’d love to see him join the Bills, but I think he wants to join the Steelers.

  11. DarkSide830

    rebulid is going to take a while. even an absurd return for Watson wolnt help unless you nail every pick you get back.

  12. Thronson5

    Packers make too much sense. Not even a GB fan but I hope he goes there. If not, come on to SF and release Ford!

    • JoeBrady

      Shut up. The Raiders make too much sense. The Raiders need his leadership AT LEAST AS MUCH as they need his skills.

      Of course, why he would want to play with a bunch knuckleheads, or a city that probably doesn’t require or appreciate his community service, is not something I want to think about.

  13. JohnTheSportsFanatic

    Thank god he’s done wasting his career in that dumpster fire organization

  14. Wade Herbers

    He must not have been willing to take a paycut. Would like to think the Texans offered to…Though the Texans are a train wreck now.
    JJ is not the player he was and is a MAJOR injury risk..
    Love to see him on the Vikings D , but only on a heavy incentive contract to avoid the injury risk. But he prolly still thinks he deserves top $$$$

  15. jessethegreat

    Calling it now.. it’s either with TJ on the Steelers or he’s going home to the Packers. Dudes got enough money… now it’s time to get himself a ring!

  16. letmeclearmythroat74

    If he wants a ring go to KC … they are more likely than anyone over the next 2 to 3 years

  17. Yep it is

    He wants to win a ring he is t going to Green Bay and play with the Cry Baby and “ hey let’s kick a field goal”. No way. He also isn’t going to Pittsburgh to play with a QB that can’t throw a ball more than 10 yards. He can go duck hunting somewhere else and get a wounded wing.

  18. mhsaltz1963

    I would say Eagles but Howie Roseman has destroyed their salary cap. The Eagles are a cautionary tail about free agency. If you don’t draft well and must fill in your holes with expensive free agents, this is what happens. They might have their choice of franchise building WRs at six this year and Howie is going to show that he knows more than everyone else and won’t draft either. This is what happens when the owner of an NFL team makes a fantasy football guru, GM. The Eagles SB win was an aberration and won’t happen again during my lifetime.

  19. I Beg To Differ

    Probably the most sensible thing the organization has done in a while.

    Cut him and let him decide where he wants to go to make a SB run.

    TB if he wants to make a run for a sb. If he wants money and a chance at a sb maybe Green Bay or KC.

  20. therook2525

    Come to Cali and play with Aaron Donald, oh what a tandem that would be!!!!

  21. Simmons>Russ

    Steelers or Packers for sure.
    Steelers defence would be crazy good if they got him. Steelers really need an upgrade at RB and will need atleast 1 good WR too

  22. therook2525

    Come play with Aaron Donald and make that defense the scariest to ever step on a field!!!!

  23. Shoeless Joe

    Signing with the Ravens so he can play and beat his brothers twice a year !

  24. Bigchief 2

    no – they aren’t even a contender in their own division. 11-0 was a façade. Everyone knew it, even them – they will be extremely lucky to finish 9-7 next year, with our without a player like JJ Watt.

  25. gtb1

    Class guy. I think this reflects the respect the McNair family has for JJ. Terrible that we couldn’t get any trade picks for him but 17.5 mil is a bunch of money for an athlete missing time with recent injury – although he played above expectations in 2020. Raised over 40 mil for Harvey families. Will always be loved in H- town.

  26. crosseyedlemon

    Jules Winnfield: “Say Watt again. Say Watt again. I dare you, I double dare you. Say Watt one more GD time”.

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