As expected, the franchise tag deadline has come and gone, and no Texans have been tagged. Starters Antonio Smith, Wade Smith, Joe Mays, Greg Jones, and Earl Mitchell, as well as solid contributors Ben Tate and Garrett Graham, are all unrestricted free agents and will be allowed to test the open market.
Nobody should really be surprised that the franchise tag is not being levied by the Houston Texans this season considering that, as the name suggests, generally only "franchise players" are hit with the tag in the first place. The Greg Hardys, Jimmy Grahams, and in the case of the New York Jets, the Nick Folks of the world are the players that usually get tagged. Houston does not have anyone of that caliber set to hit free agency. What the Texans do have, however, is about $150 million worth of young football talent that needs to get locked up long-term in Kareem Jackson and J.J. Watt, and not much room to do it.
At the end of the day, even with the salary cap increase, there simply is not enough money to go around to keep the gang together. I suppose that is the price that the Texans must pay for having a lot of talent on their team, even if all that talent managed to go a whopping 2-14 last season. The eyes of Houston now turn towards free agency, where Rick Smith must find a way to restock the cupboard without breaking the bank.