The Texans and defensive end J.J. Watt have mutually agreed to part ways, the five-time Pro Bowler announced Friday.
Watt shared a video and said he initiated the release with ownership.
“I have sat down with the McNair family and I have asked them for my release," Watt said. "We have mutually agreed to part ways at this time.”
About a dozen teams have reportedly expressed interest in signing Watt, who is now an unrestricted free agent. Among the teams interested are the Browns, Steelers, Bills and Titans, per ESPN's Ed Werder.
Watt, 31, has been a member of the Texans since he was selected with the No. 11 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. In his 10 years in Houston, Watt was named first-team All-Pro five times and won the Walter Peyton Man of the Year award in 2017.
Watt was set to enter the final season of his six-year, $10 million contract with the Texans.
Watt said he is "excited and looking forward to a new opportunity" but says it will be "tough to move on" from what has been his home for the past 10 seasons.
In his video to fans, Watt addressed his love and "special" connection with the city of Houston. In 2017, Watt was named SI's Sportsperson of the Year after he helped raise over $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.
"I have tried to do everything in my power to work and earn your respect to try and make you proud on and off the field," Watt said. "You guys have given me everything and more. I can only hope that you feel that I have given everything that I have."
T.J. Watt, J.J.'s brother and member of the Steelers, posted a tweet seemingly attempting to court his brother to Pittsburgh after his announcement. Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson also tweeted his best wishes and appreciation for "one of the greatest of all time."
Watt totaled five sacks and 36 solo tackles during the 2020 season. The Texans went 4–12 on the year and missed the playoffs.
Watt's release comes as Watson has reportedly requested a trade from the Texans this offseason. On Friday, Houston CEO Cal McNair said "there is a lot of misinformation out there" about Watson and that he expects him to "remain a Texan.”