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Houston Texans to release five-time All-Pro J.J. Watt

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Houston Texans to release five-time All-Pro J.J. Watt
All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt requested his release from the Houston Texans before the two parties announced Friday that they "mutually" agreed to part ways. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Houston Texans plan to release five-time All-Pro and three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, the team said Friday.

The Texans said the team and Watt "mutually agreed to part ways." Watt also released a video Friday on social media. He said he met with Texans ownership and requested his release.

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Watt joined the Texans as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is the franchise's all-time leader in sacks (101), forced fumbles (25) and fumble recoveries (16).

Watt, 31, signed a six-year, $100 million contract extension with the Texans in 2014. He was set to make $17.5 million in 2021.

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"Change is never easy, especially when it involves the ones you love," Texans owner Cal McNair said in a news release.

"J.J.'s impact on not only our organization, but the entire Houston community, is unlike any player in our franchise's history. I told J.J. earlier this week that we will forever consider him a Texan."

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Watt had 52 total tackles, seven passes defensed, five sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception for a touchdown in 16 starts last season. He started all 16 regular-season games in seven of his 10 seasons in Houston

The 6-foot-5, 288-pound pass rusher missed eight games in 2019 due to a torn pectoral injury. He missed 11 games in 2017 after he sustained a broken leg. Watt also played through several back injuries.

"I came here 10 years ago as a kid from Wisconsin who had never been to Texas before," Watt said in a video he posted to social media. "Now, I can't imagine my life without Texas in it.

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"Since [draft] day, I have tried to do everything in my power to work and earn [fans'] respect and to try and make you proud on and off the field.

"You guys have given me everything and more and I can only hope that you feel like I have given you everything I have."

Watt was known as a philanthropic pillar in the Houston community. From 2017 through 2018, he raised more than $41 million in donations to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Watt went on to win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for those efforts.

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He also started the Justin J. Watt Foundation to help underserved children. The foundation has provided more than $6 million in funding to schools and organizations that have insufficient funding for -- or lack -- after-school athletic programs.

"We take solace in knowing that this is not a goodbye but a 'see you soon,'" McNair said.

"For now, we will build upon the foundation that J.J. created here and forge ahead with our unwavering mission to bring a championship to our city, create memorable experiences for our fans and do great things for Houston."

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