Watt won three defensive player of the year awards while with the Texans and he was also named the Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work helping Houston rebuild after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Texans CEO Cal McNair said Watt had an impact “unlike any player in our franchise’s history” and his mother Janice echoed that sentiment in a statement of her own.
“Simply put, there has been no person in the past decade who has made a greater impact on the Texans organization than J.J. Watt,” McNair said. “J.J.’s dominance on the field was unprecedented and resulted in countless moments that will go down in Texans history. To me, what best represents J.J.’s connection to Houston is his tradition of playing catch with the fans before every home game. The number of people who wear #99 jerseys with smiles on their faces totally encapsulated J.J.’s passion for bonding with Texans fans at every possible opportunity. His commitment to the community is unlike any player in NFL history. We are forever grateful to J.J. and his family.”
Watt’s departure will clear $17.5 million in cap space for the Texans to use in an offseason that may also see quarterback Deshaun Watshon traded to another team. If that happens, the Texans will essentially be rebooting the franchise ahead of the 2021 season.