HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have released veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus.

He was the 26th overall pick in the 2012 draft and spent his entire career with the Texans. Mercilus was one of the longest- tenured players on the team after most of the team's stars have been traded or released in recent years.

Mercilus appeared in 134 games for the Texans, which is the third most in franchise history. He has 348 tackles in his career and ranks second in franchise history behind J.J. Watt with 57 sacks.

“There aren’t many players in franchise history who have impacted our organization and community the way Whitney Mercilus has,” Texans' owner Cal McNair said.

The 31-year-old appeared in six games this season with two starts for the Texans, who have won just one game. He has three sacks and four tackles for losses.

Houston coach David Culley said Wednesday that releasing Mercilus was a mutual decision and that the performance of some young players on the team factored into the move.

“That position he plays, we’ve got as much depth there as any position on our team," Culley said. “We’ve got some young guys there. ... those young guys are starting to play, and it gives us a chance to be able to look at them and also give him a chance to be able to continue on and play and find a team that fits him and move on with his career.”


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