What makes a bad football decision?
Is it just incompetence? Is it more about the wasted money, or the poor player evaluation? Is it the forfeiture of a draft pick, or the potential of what those draft picks could have been?
Is it simply employing Charlie Casserly? Well, probably.
But while we're here, we might as well look at the worst of the worst of Casserly's mistakes. So, behind the jump, my five worst Casserly transactions, followed by a poll to decide, once and for all, what his biggest blunder was.
Drafting Tony Boselli with the first overall pick in the Expansion Draft.
It starts with your first misstep. The Jacksonville Jaguars cannily cut a deal for us to take this deadweight of a contract first overall in the Expansion Draft. Boselli never played a snap for the Texans, retired after the 2002 season, and the reliance on him to be a rock at tackle caused Casserly to not chase a real backup tackle. Chester Pitts, playing out of position at tackle, allowed many pass rushers a run at David Carr. Whether that was a contributing factor to Carr's terribleness is up to the reader, but Boselli was obviously a total waste of time for the Texans and created a cascade effect of badness that would take years to fix. You can argue it's never been totally fixed, in fact, if you're not sold on Duane Brown yet.
Drafting David Carr with the first overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
A rather obvious addition to this list. Carr wasn't quite as much of a bust as JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith, or Ryan Leaf. I mean, at least he started games and could throw a football. His total lack of pocket awareness was murder on him despite having all the correct physical tools, and now he clings to NFL life as a backup quarterback. You can argue that the Texans mishandled Carr to some extent, but as I said about Amobi Okoye recently, there are no excuses in the NFL.
I think this might be the best of Casserly's bad transactions. For one thing, you need a franchise quarterback to win in this league. The three first round worthy NFL QBs according to scouts in the 2002 draft were Carr, Joey Harrington, and Patrick Ramsey. I think the Texans probably got the best of those three. The only QB from this draft who currently starts in the NFL is David Garrard, and he was a fourth rounder. Carr might have been the best quarterback in this draft other than Garrard, which is damning with faint praise, but it's still a positive for the Texans evaluators.
Of course, many other talent directors thought as highly of Carr as the Texans did. While it looks bad in hindsight, this, to me, was a pretty decent pick at the time. It's pretty sad to think about Julius Peppers being a lifetime Texan though, I can't lie about that.
Signing Todd Wade as a free agent after the 2004 season.
Continuing his efforts to try to fix the terrible tackle situation that he thought he had solved for years in the expansion draft, Casserly signed tackle Todd Wade to a 6 year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed. Wade played 22 games for the Texans in two injury-riddled seasons, gave nothing that a replacement player couldn't have given, and was released with a massive cap hit after 2005.
This was my last pick to make the list. I went with Wade over Anthony Weaver simply because Weaver actually played out most of his contract. The two of them are definitely 1-2 in my mind for free agent busts in Houston, with Robaire Smith running third.
Trading a second-round pick (40-TE Ben Troupe), a third-round pick (71-Randy Starks), a fourth-round pick (103-Bo Schobel), and a fifth-round pick (138-Jacob Bell) in the 2004 NFL Draft to Tennessee for their first round pick (27-Jason Babin) and a fifth-round pick (159-Sean Bubin, later flipped to Jacksonville for sixth and seventh rounders that wound up being RB Jamal Lord and LB Raheem Orr) in the 2004 NFL Draft.
This one was an unmitigated disaster. Not only did Babin play so terribly that he's just barely hanging on to the edges of an NFL roster today, but the Texans gave FOUR picks to a division rival, two of which wound up being hits, and one of which (Starks), was a better NFL defensive lineman than Babin wound up being.
Want to cringe even more? Here's an optimal table of players the Texans could have taken with those picks:
40: Darnell Dockett
71: Matt Schaub (saving future picks)
103: Jared Allen
138: Michael Turner.
Now, of course, it's doubtful Casserly would have taken any of those players, since he was an awful GM for the Texans, but that's the potential core of a championship team right there, practically given away for nothing, to a division rival. The only bright spot is that Tennessee didn't hit on those picks as well as they could have either.
By the way, if you want to use the draft trade value chart: 27 was worth 680, and 159 was worth 27.8. So that's 707.8. The Texans gave up 40 (500), 71 (235), 103 (88), and 138 (37). Or 860. So even by the old draft trade chart, which CRIMINALLY underrates picks not in the first round, the Texans got ravaged. The combination of the stupidity of a team that wasn't even good giving up most of it's draft and the craptasticness of Babin are enough to put this one over the top for me. It's my selection for worst transaction.
Trading a second-round pick (47-K Mike Nugent, after the Raiders sent this pick to the Jets) and a third-round pick (78-LB Kirk Morrison) in the 2005 NFL Draft to the Oakland Raiders for Phillip Buchanon.
Buchanon, the solution to get our CB situation over the hump after Aaron Glenn finally got too old for Casserly to keep around, played just 14 games for the Texans before being released in the middle of the 2006 season. He was utterly abysmal, and if MDC had kept DGDB&D around, I would link you to several posts where I believe he wanted to crucify him. Or at least murder him.
The price to get him, of course, was exorbitant. The Texans gave up two high mid-round picks, and only the Jets drafting a kicker could save this from looking much worse. Playing the same optimal game as we did with Babin, the Texans could have gotten Nick Collins (or Vincent Jackson, if you prefer) and David Stewart. In other words, we traded roughly 630 points of draft value for a cornerback who they couldn't even justify keeping in the MIDDLE of a season.
So what do you think BRB? Dark horse picks? Things I missed?