HOUSTON, Texas (NewsNation Now)— J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans have “mutually agreed to part ways,” ending the tenure of the face of the franchise and adding another huge change to an offseason filled with upheaval.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has spent his entire career with the Texans after being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The defensive end had one year remaining on a 6-year, $100 million contract.
“I came here 10 years ago as a kid from Wisconsin who had never really been to Texas before, and now I can’t imagine my life without Texas in it,” Watt said in a Twitter video Friday morning.
The Texans also confirmed Watt’s departure in a press release, saying they “mutually agreed to part ways.”
“The connection I have with the people of Houston is special, and I will never take that for granted because I know how rare it is,” Watt said. “I just want you to know that I love you and I appreciate you. I want to thank the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL. Thank you, Houston.”
The Texans selected Watt with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Watt is the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, a three-time Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Along with his contributions on the field, Watt was lauded for his humanitarian efforts after raising more than $40 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017.
Watt’s departure comes in an offseason where the Texans have hired coach David Culley and general manager Nick Caserio to replace Bill O’Brien, who held both jobs and was fired after the team opened the season 0-4. They’re also facing uncertainty at quarterback after star Deshaun Watson requested a trade.
Watt did not say if he was moving on to another team.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KIAH contributed to this report.