Texans to release 3-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt

Arun Srinivasan
·2 min read

The Houston Texans' descent into total dysfunction continued Friday, releasing three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

Watt confirmed in a video Friday that he met with Texans owner Cal McNair and asked for his release.

Watt was openly dismayed about how the franchise treated Deshaun Watson throughout the 2020 season, telling his teammate that they wasted his standout season during their final game of the year, when the Texans stumbled to a 4-12 record despite their star quarterback's heroics.

Watson has since demanded a trade, after the Texans ignored his suggestion that they interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for their head coaching vacancy. Houston also ignored the results of its independently hired search firm, Korn Ferry, and named former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver coach David Culley as its next head coach.

Houston elected not to trade Watt, ostensibly so he could choose a contender of his liking. The motives of the front office can't be unilaterally trusted since Jack Easterby ascended to vice president of football operations without any real qualifications. Easterby previously served as a character coach for the New England Patriots from 2013-18, before joining the Texans in 2019 as the executive vice president of team development. 

After head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien was fired in October, Easterby assumed even more control within the Texans organization. Sports Illustrated ran an extensive profile of Easterby's rise in December, noting that he fought to undermine his superiors and helped build a "culture of distrust among staff and players" among other indiscretions.

To recap: Houston traded superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins last March for David Johnson along with second-round and fourth-round picks. The underwhelming return for Hopkins was unanimously panned and instantly graded as one of the worst trades of all-time. Houston continued to decimate its roster, fired universally respected head of public relations Amy Palcic, and continued to alienate Watson until his discontent reportedly reached a 10/10.

One of the best players of his generation, Watt recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles, playing in all 16 games in 2020. Although he's no longer the transcendent force that made him one of the faces of the NFL, Watt is still a quality pass rusher and could put a Super Bowl contender over the edge.

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