The Houston Texans released their longest-tenured defensive player, the team announced on Tuesday. Ten-year veteran Whitney Mercilus, selected in the first round (26th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft, posted his goodbye to the City of Houston, its fans and the Texans organization on Instagram.
Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair released a statement on the defensive lineman's release.
"There aren't many players in franchise history who have impacted our organization and community the way Whitney Mercilus has," McNair said. "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."
Mercilus ranks second in franchise history in sacks (57.0), tackles for loss (72), quarterback hits (115), forced fumbles (13), fumble recoveries (eight) and multi-sack games (13) in 134 games (102 starts) as a Texan, the third-most in franchise history. He also played in eight postseason games (five starts), recording 26 tackles (15 solo), seven tackles for loss and a franchise-record 7 sacks.
Off the field, Mercilus provided advocacy and support to the families of children with disabilities and special needs through his WithMerci Foundation. Nominated by the Texans for the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Mercilus and his foundation have donated countless hours and monetary contributions to numerous organizations, such as the Houston Independent School District's Department of Special Education, the Smartie Pants Academy Center, Easter Seals of Greater Houston and the Foundation for Autism Care, Education and Services.
The Texans will practice Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center. On Sunday in Arizona, they'll face the Cardinals at 3:25 p.m. CT.
The next time you can see the Texans at NRG Stadium will be on October 31 as they host the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.