JJ Watt expressed his gratitude to Houstonians and Texans in a video on Friday.

Image: Marco Torres

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and NFL Network, JJ Watt has been released from his contract with the Texans, ending a tumultuous slice of an otherwise legendary career in Houston.

In a video posted to his Twitter Friday morning, Watt said that he asked the McNair family (Janice McNair is owner and her son Cal, as chairman and CEO, runs day-to-day operations) for his release, which was granted, making Watt a free agent after 10 seasons.

With 101 career sacks and 531 career combined tackles, Watt is a five-time first-team all-pro defensive end and five-time pro bowler. He's also a three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and will likely be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when his career ends.

The last few years have been up and down for Watt, thanks to multiple injuries and inconsistent play. That has mirrored the play of the Texans, who in 2020 finished 4-12 under head coaches Romeo Crennel and Bill O'Brien, who was fired after an 0-4 start early in the campaign. 

Things may get worse for the franchise, as sources say Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson has expressed his interest in a trade out of Houston. That saga and Watt's release are part of a larger problem facing the Texans, whose recent leadership under the McNair family and new Executive VP of football operations Jack Easterby has been questioned by many. Easterby has had a quick and curious rise to prominence, as before arriving in Houston he served as a character coach and team development director for the New England Patriots. Watt isn't the only one to get out of Dodge; most recently, team President Jamey Rootes resigned on Wednesday

As for Watt, there should a bidding war for the defensive end. In his video Friday, he acknowledged the fans and the role that Houston and the Lone Star State have played in his life.

"The City of Houston has been unbelievable to me," said Watt. "It's where I met my wife, it's where I've met lifelong friends and teammates ... people on the streets, people in restaurants and grocery stores, and showing up at my house. The connection is special and I will never ever take that for granted because I know how rare it is."

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