It’s been a long 15 months for Houston sports fans watching superstars leave their teams.
- Astros P Gerrit Cole walked in free agency (December 2019).
- Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins traded (March 2020).
- Rockets G Russell Westbrook asked for a trade, and he was shipped to Washington DC (December 2020).
- Rockets G James Harden demanded a trade, sent to Brooklyn (January 2021).
- Astros OF George Springer walked in free agency (January 2021).
Unfortunately, things aren’t going to get easier any time soon.
Three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt asked the Texans for his release, and Houston mutually agreed to let him go.
Houston, I wanted you to hear this directly from me… pic.twitter.com/YqT3P6Lb6l
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 12, 2021
The move comes in the midst of QB Deshaun Watson’s ongoing demand with the Texans to trade him. Watson showed support for his now-former teammate.
Salute to one of the Greatest of All Time @JJWatt I appreciate you for all the work you put in and more importantly the person you are. Any team in the league will be better the day you out on their jersey! 1OVE my brother! MORE Glory 🙏🏾
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) February 12, 2021
However, the Watt request came as a surprise to most of the sports world. Since getting to Houston 10 years ago, Watt has been everything the Texans could want and more both on and off the field.
On the field, Watt is the Texans all-time sacks leader with 101 in his 10 seasons. The only other Houston players with more than 30 sacks are Whitney Mercilus with 54 and Mario Williams with 53.
Watt was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year after his efforts to raise money in Houston after Hurricane Harvey hit. The five-time Pro Bowler helped raise $37 million and repair/rebuild over 1,100 homes affected by the hurricane.
Pittsburgh linebacker TJ Watt is already recruiting his older brother to give the Steelers all three Watt brothers. Fullback Derek Watt is also on Pittsburgh’s roster.
— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) February 12, 2021
JJ Watt is free to sign with any team. He was due to make $17.5 million, but the salary was not guaranteed.
Back to Watson for a moment, Texans chair and CEO Cal McNair reiterated the team’s stance that the QB will not be traded.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” McNair told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I’ll leave it at that. Today we want on focus on JJ. Deshaun is our QB, he is a Texan, and we expect him to remain a Texan, and we’ll leave it at that.”