HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/CBSSPORTS.COM) – After a decade, the J.J. Watt era in Houston has come to an end. On Friday, the Texans released the pass rusher, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Watt, 31, later confirmed the news of his release in a video posted on social media and noted that he asked the McNair family to be let go and the two sides then mutually agreed to part ways.

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“I’m excited and looking forward to a new opportunity,” Watt said after highlighting his love and appreciation for the city of Houston. “I’ve been working extremely hard, but at the same time, it’s always tough to move on. I just want you guys to know that I love you and I appreciate you. I appreciate the McNair family for drafting me and giving me my first opportunity in the NFL. Thank you, Houston. I love you.”

“Change is never easy, especially when it involves the ones you love. J.J.’s impact on not only our organization, but the entire Houston community, is unlike any player in our franchise’s history,” said Texans owner Cal McNair in a statement released by the team. “I told J.J. earlier this week that we will forever consider him a Texan. We take solace in knowing that this is not a goodbye but a ‘see you soon.’ 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.”

By releasing Watt, the Texans save $17.5 million in cash and off their salary cap for 2021. Meanwhile, Watt is now free to sign with any team that will have him and can sign immediately. He does not have to wait until the start of free agency and the new league year in mid-March, giving him a leg up to find his next destination in the NFL.

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The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has spent his entire career with the Texans after being selected as the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

CBSDFW.com Staff