I don't think we can be surprised at this point.
Chronicle stenographer John McClain has written an opinion piece today concerning the fact that Mario Williams will likely need to take a hometown discount to stay a Texan. Yes, there are players that could be released to free up cap space. Yes, there is the fabled MDC contract, structured like DeMarcus Ware's, that keeps Mario in town and reduces his cap number from last year.
Say what you will about McClain, and I have, but as a stenographer it's hard to get your message out without revealing some element of the truth. I don't like the idea he puts out that the Texans were swell without Mario -- both because he would have made them better and because I'm a little lower on the individual play of Brooks Reed than some -- but I can see the economic appeal to reason here, and it's a very simple one:
Mario Williams can't stay healthy.
I loathe the "compare athletes to girlfriends" comparison, both because it's overused and often used to make bizarre points, but the Texans have been with Mario enough to know his warts, and I think that absolutely lowers his absolute value to them. To some extent I feel like I've spent the last five years of my life defending Mario Williams from criticism, so let me say that he absolutely has not been as ideally dominant as he could. He does disappear in a few games a season. He doesn't mix up his pass rush moves as much as you'd like him to. And, most importantly, he has a history of nagging injuries that limit him -- and this is even before he spent parts of the last two seasons on IR.
Nobody is doubting the raw talent, nobody can say with a straight, non-trolled face that not having Williams next season makes the Texans better. But if you squint and look at the Arian Foster deal, keeping Chris Myers, potentially locking up Duane Brown and Connor Barwin, and weigh that against locking a lot of guaranteed money into an elite pass rusher who has played 18 games over the past two seasons ... I can see the logic.
The situation kind of reminds me of what the Bills did with Paul Posluszny after the lockout. He's a damn good linebacker, but one that has a history of health problems. Rather than lock themselves into him, the Bills let him join the Jaguars. He had a terrific season in Jacksonville ... then separated his shoulder during the last game of the year. Some team who hasn't seen Williams' injury history firsthand is going to "overbid" for the elite pass rusher that he is and get something less than they desired for a portion of the season.
And that's fine. I wish Williams the best if he leaves, at least when he isn't playing the Texans, because he had to endure a lot more criticism than he ever deserved here. He was never the problem.