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Andre Johnson Likely The First To Go in 2015, But Which Texans Player Is Next?

'Dre is all but gone at this point, and it is very likely the Texans will part ways with other players as well. Let's look at some cap numbers to see who could be next out the door.

Great play, J-Jo!  Let's talk about that contract for 2015, shall we?
Great play, J-Jo! Let's talk about that contract for 2015, shall we?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With less than a week to go before NFL free agency kicks into gear, your Houston Texans are busy making roster changes and clearing cap space to compete for available talent.  After spending the last few days absorbing the news that Andre Johnson will no longer be a Houston Texan, it is time to brace for impact in anticipation that additional players will be released or traded.  It happens every year in the NFL for every team.  That doesn't make it any easier for the coaches, players or fans to accept the constant change, but here we are.

Coach Bill O'Brien and his staff have now had a full year to evaluate the players on the Houston roster, and it is very likely that they will be making changes in areas where performance, scheme-fit and cost do not quite fit the plans for 2015 and beyond.

The table below shows information sourced from Over The Cap, and it helps highlight players who may find themselves in the cross-hairs of facing requests to renegotiate their contract or who simply will be notified that they have been traded or released.  While there are 60 players currently under contract, I cut it off at the top-25 for this review.

Base Salary Bonuses Cap Cut/Trade (Pre-June 1st) Cut/Trade (Post-June 1st)

(Guaranteed) Prorated Roster Number Dead Money Cap Savings Dead Money Cap Savings
J.J. Watt $9,969,000 $2,000,000 $10,000,000 $21,969,000 $17,969,000 $4,000,000 $11,969,000 $10,000,000
Andre Johnson $10,500,000 $4,644,583 $1,000,000 $16,144,583 $7,319,583 $8,825,000 $4,644,583 $11,500,000
Johnathan Joseph $8,500,000 $3,750,000 $0 $12,250,000 $3,750,000 $8,500,000 same same
Duane Brown $7,000,000 $2,500,000 $0 $9,500,000 $5,000,000 $4,500,000 $2,500,000 $7,000,000
Arian Foster $6,000,000 $2,500,000 $500,000 $8,906,250 $5,000,000 $3,906,250 $2,500,000 $6,406,250
Chris Myers $6,000,000 $2,000,000 $0 $8,000,000 $2,000,000 $6,000,000 same same
Brian Cushing $4,000,000 $2,797,500 $1,250,000 $7,891,250 $13,592,500 ($5,701,250) $6,797,500 $1,093,750
Jadeveon Clowney $1,432,409 $3,629,636 $922,409 $5,062,045 $18,223,362 ($13,161,317) $5,062,045 $0
Garrett Graham $3,000,000 $750,000 $250,000 $3,921,875 $1,500,000 $2,421,875 $750,000 $3,171,875
Ryan Fitzpatrick $3,250,000 $625,000 $0 $3,875,000 $625,000 $3,250,000 same same
Whitney Mercilus $1,431,012 $998,018 $0 $2,429,030 $998,018 $1,431,012 same same
Shane Lechler $1,750,000 $333,334 $0 $2,083,334 $333,334 $1,750,000 same same
DeAndre Hopkins $1,098,336 $981,673 $0 $2,080,009 $3,061,682 ($981,673) $2,080,009 $0
Brandon Brooks $1,542,000 $154,359 $0 $1,696,359 $154,359 $1,542,000 same same
Ben Jones $1,542,000 $120,362 $0 $1,662,362 $120,362 $1,542,000 same same
Jared Crick $1,542,000 $97,875 $0 $1,639,875 $97,875 $1,542,000 same same
Tyson Clabo $900,000 $100,000 $320,000 $1,320,000 $100,000 $1,220,000 same same
Xavier Su'a-Filo $672,435 $589,382 $0 $1,261,817 $2,958,408 ($1,696,591) same same
Will Yeatman $745,000 $0 $300,000 $1,045,000 $0 $1,045,000 same same
DJ Swearinger $722,390 $229,782 $0 $952,172 $459,564 $492,608 $229,782 $722,390
DeVier Posey $748,000 $171,023 $0 $919,023 $171,023 $748,000 same same
Jon Weeks $745,000 $63,750 $0 $808,750 $63,750 $745,000 same same
Keshawn Martin $660,000 $103,140 $0 $763,140 $103,140 $660,000 same same
Thaddeus Lewis $745,000 $0 $0 $745,000 $0 $745,000 same same
C.J. Fiedorowicz $555,000 $175,826 $0 $730,826 $175,826 $555,000 same same

J.J. Watt is grossly underpaid, and I don't see Duane Brown or Arian Foster being addressed in 2015, as their value to cost is still in line for their roles.  Looking at this list, I'd suggest that perhaps the following players might be getting a call from the front office due to a combination of their age and price/performance:

Base Salary Bonuses Cap Cut/Trade (Pre-June 1st) Cut/Trade (Post-June 1st)

Position Age (Guaranteed) Prorated Roster Number Dead Money Cap Savings Dead Money Cap Savings
Johnathan Joseph CB 30 $8,500,000 $3,750,000 $0 $12,250,000 $3,750,000 $8,500,000 same same
Chris Myers C 33 $6,000,000 $2,000,000 $0 $8,000,000 $2,000,000 $6,000,000 same same
Garrett Graham TE 28 $3,000,000 $750,000 $250,000 $3,921,875 $1,500,000 $2,421,875 $750,000 $3,171,875
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB 32 $3,250,000 $625,000 $0 $3,875,000 $625,000 $3,250,000 same same
Tyson Clabo OT 33 $900,000 $100,000 $320,000 $1,320,000 $100,000 $1,220,000 same same
DeVier Posey WR 24 $748,000 $171,023 $0 $919,023 $171,023 $748,000 same same
Keshawn Martin WR 24 $660,000 $103,140 $0 $763,140 $103,140 $660,000 same same
Thaddeus Lewis QB 27 $745,000 $0 $0 $745,000 $0 $745,000 same same

If all of these players were released, the Texans would save a whopping $23.5 million!

That's not likely to happen, of course, but some do stand out as potential targets.  First of all, I could see them restructuring Johnathan Joseph and Chris Myers.  We should be alert for any news related to these two players because of their age (future ability to perform for the team) and the fact that the cap savings of releasing them is significantly greater than the remaining dead money. There should obviously be a value for  their leadership, experience and record of performance through 2014, but the Texans are rebuilding and could benefit from saving $14.5 million if both were released outright.

The question is whether anyone on the roster is ready to step in and replace them.

Johnathan Joseph

There is a handful of young cornerbacks on the current roster who flashed promise at times, but Joseph is still playing at a high level as a starter when healthy.  You also have to determine what will happen with Kareem Jackson.  If the Texans re-sign Jackson, Joseph becomes the biggest target for a restructuring or release/trade scenario.  If Jackson departs in free agency, Joseph obviously has more leverage.

Chris Myers

All-Pro centers don't grow on trees, and Myers has been the leader of the offensive line for years.  However, he did struggle through much of 2014 and was even flat out "rag-dolled" in several games.  How much of that was on him versus breakdowns in the blocking next to him along the line?  Could Ben Jones or someone else replace him successfully?

Garrett Graham

His performance in 2014 didn't exactly live up to his contract, so he also stands out as a potential target.  Graham does have some insulation from the fact that Ryan Griffin and C.J. Fiedorowicz also didn't impress as tight ends last year.  The Texans would save $2.5 million against the cap if they release or trade Graham.  It's not a lot, but it helps pad the budget to make rare "big" free agency moves that the Texans could consider.

With the impending departure of Andre Johnson and the lack of solid talent at tight end and wide receiver (notwithstanding DeAndre Hopkins), I would urge the Texans to use a sizable chunk of the available cap space to sign Julius Thomas.  That would give O'Brien a much desired mismatch against linebackers and safeties from  a player who can be the league-leading (TE) touchdown machine in this offensive system.

The rest of the players on the list represent average depth that can be replaced through the NFL Draft or free agency for a cap-cleanup value of around $6.5 million for 2015.


Which players do you feel the Texans will renegotiate contracts or release/trade in the coming days and weeks?