HOUSTON — The Houston Texans plan to part ways with longtime defensive star Whitney Mercilus, KHOU 11 learned Monday.
Sources confirmed the news to sports reporter Daniel Gotera Monday night and the Texans sent a release on Tuesday.
Mercilus was drafted in the first round by the Texans in 2012. He was the 26th overall pick by the team and is among the most recognizable names on the Texans' roster.
“There aren’t many players in franchise history who have impacted our organization and community the way Whitney Mercilus has,” Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “I can recall a number of times over the last 10 seasons where he stepped up for us on the field with a sack or big play in a crucial moment, but it was his unique connection with the Houston community that made him one of the most popular players in franchise history. Our fan base gravitated to Whitney from day one and he always found ways to give back and serve through his foundation and culinary work. My family and the entire organization will always consider Whitney a Texan.”
In 2016, Mercilus earned Second-Team All-Pro honors from The Associated Press as a linebacker after tying for the league lead with four fumble recoveries and leading the Texans with 7.5 sacks. Mercilus is also a two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Week, having won the award in Week 1 of the 2016 season and Week 2 of the 2019 season, and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in December of 2015 after compiling 17 tackles (10), 5.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in five games.
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For his career, Mercilus has recorded 357 tackles, including 234 that were solo. He's sacked opposing quarterbacks 57 times and has two interceptions.
This season, Mercilus had 12 tackles and three sacks.
Houston is 1-5 this season, having dropped the last five games after winning the season opener.
Mercilus posted a message of thanks to the Houston fans and the Texans organization on Instagram Monday night.
This is the full text of that message
"It was 10 years ago I received the call that would forever change my life. The Houston Texans organization welcomed me with open arms and the City of Houston became home.
To the McNair family... Thank you for believing in a kid from Akron, Ohio.
To my teammates who have become my brothers for life... Thank you for the talks, thank you for having my back on the field and thank you for always coming through for my work in the community.
Texans fans... You have been amazing! We’ve been together through both exciting and challenging times, and I'll always admire the heart and perseverance of the Houston community. No matter what, you've always showed up and supported me on and off the field.
God always has a plan, so now I await what’s ahead…Rock Boy out! 🤘🏾🎸 "