Houston Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus released after nearly 10 years with team

The NFL veteran now heads to free agency after he was originally a first-round pick of the Texans.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As murmurs of his Houston Texans release turned into confirmed truth, defensive end Whitney Mercilus said he's taking the end of his nearly decade-long tenure with the team in stride.

Mercilus, whose early career accolades can only be matched by his community involvement, spoke with media members Tuesday after he took part in a Houston ISD classroom renovation ribbon-cutting at Fleming Middle School.

The NFL veteran, who is now a free agent in his 10th year of his career, said he received the news of his release on Monday when he met with team brass, including Texans general manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley.

"It went smooth, short, quick," Mercilus recalled. "The biggest thing is I'm appreciative about not learning through Twitter or through Facebook or something like that."

Mercilus said his wish is to continue his career with a Super Bowl contending team, further acknowledging that the Texans were rebuilding.

You can watch Mercilus' full remarks in the wake of his release in the video above.

Of course, Mercilus said leaving a city that he's immersed his time and energy into will be an adjustment.

"It's tough. You have so many connections. You build a life down here, and it becomes home. ... I won't say it's frustrating, but it's a new space," he said. "Like they said, it was a mutual thing parting ways."

In a news release by the Texans, the team's CEO, Cal McNair, called Mercilus a lifelong member of the team.

"There aren't many players in franchise history who have impacted our organization and community the way Whitney Mercilus has," said Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. "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."

The Texans drafted Mercilus in the first round in 2012, but this was his first year in Lovie Smith's defense, which saw him move from outside linebacker to defensive end.

In March, the 31-year-old Mercilus restructured his four-year, $54 million contract, which made would have made him a free agent after this season.

In six games for Houston this season, Mercilus has three sacks, four tackles for a loss, three quarterback hits and 12 tackles.

He has 57 sacks in 10 seasons for the Texans, which ranks second in franchise history behind J.J. Watt, who had 101 sacks with Houston.

ESPN contributed to this report.
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