Nick Caserio has made his next move as general manager of the Houston Texans, and it certainly will be a much-discussed one: as first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and later confirmed by the man himself, superstar defensive lineman and de facto face of the franchise J.J. Watt has been released by the Texans after 10 seasons.
Watt originally arrived in Houston as a first-round draft pick in 2011 and immediately left his mark on the team and the league. A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and five-time first-team All-Pro, Watt appeared in 128 regular seasons games and eight playoff contests for the team — all while nothing a combined 107 sacks as one of the most productive pass rushers of his era.
Given the state of the Texans’ salary cap — the team is projected to be around $13 million over the cap this year — the writing for Watt to be let go was on the wall, however.
He himself took to social media shortly after his release to confirm the news:
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me... pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
The 31-year-old will become a free agent once the transaction becomes official, and likely be a popular target for teams. The New England Patriots, Caserio’s former team, might be among them but it would not be a surprise if Watt decided to be united with his brothers T.J. and Derek — the former a standout edge defender, the latter a serviceable fullback — with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Regardless of where he ends up, though, Watt’s departure from Houston presents the end of an era.