This offseason, Houston has been a total non-factor in the unrestricted free agent market, traded Brock Osweiler and sold a draft pick to create cap space, and still have yet to sign deserving players to extensions. Currently the team has $29,784,530 in cap space and is projected to have $56,312,021 available next season. What should Houston do with the cap space they have available right now?
There isn’t anything monumental they can do with it right now. They could use it and sign veterans that get cut. You know, players like Jeremy Maclin, who signed with Baltimore. More veterans like Maclin will be released during and after training camp. The Texans have the ability to, and should, take a swing at them. But other than possible future cuts, there aren’t any free agents available that are anything more than veteran leadership or tryout spots.
The other thing Houston can do, and probably will do, is re-sign DeAndre Hopkins before the season starts. That way he can be locked to a long-term deal before he has the opportunity to make even more as an unrestricted free agent or is force-fed a franchise tag. Something similar but less than Antonio Brown is a good place to start. This is the most likely option and the best use of the space they have now.
The other important thing to pay attention to looking ahead in free agency is how Houston is going to improve their roster next offseason. They are going to have oodles and noodles of cap room even before possible cuts like Derek Newton, Jeff Allen, Kareem Jackson, or Brian Cushing. Without their a first or second round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Texans are going to be first Friday of the month payday spenders.
I think Uncle Bob should throw BattleRedBlog.com a massive party with all that cap space.
Otherwise, there aren't many options. I've been pining for Muhammad Wilkerson, but I don't know if we have any trade leverage remaining at this point. Any free agents available all have question marks, though I wouldn't mind taking a significant risk on Zach Orr. Maybe Aaron Williams at S?
The problem is that free agency is, quality wise, over. There isn't a lot out there.
Pray that Tony Romo unretires.
I don't think there's actually an answer. The guys available today are cheap enough to be signed with or without the cap space, for the most part. There are some dudes I wouldn't mind seeing on the team as fliers. Ryan Clady, Brandon Flowers, Anquan Boldin, Ladarius Green, maybe a few others. But they're all still out there for a reason.
The best idea is probably just to roll it over for next season and use it to make a win-now signing.
Seems pretty straightforward to me.
1. Sign DeAndre Hopkins to a front-loaded extension.
2. Reach out to Jadeveon Clowney about whether he's willing to talk extension now with the hope you can save yourself some money by using the current market as a barometer instead of falling victim to the inevitable increased costs of signing a player of Clowney's caliber in two years. I doubt Clowney agrees to do it, as he'd undoubtedly be leaving money on the table if he manages to stay healthy over the next season or two, but he has enough of an injury history that he might consider it.
Tim took my answer, so I'll second his nomination that we re-sign Nuk and try to get Clowney extended ASAP. There are holes on the team, but none that seem as pressing to me, long-term, than ensuring our WR1 and DL/LB/Whatever is there.
I'll third Tim's comments. Re-signing our own is job one. After that, I'd beat the bushes for offensive linemen and a safety or three. Maybe, like Rivers said, Ryan Clady still has a little left in the tank.
After that, I might consider trying to pull another money-ball move and find a way to leverage some of that cap space to rip another trade for a high caliber right tackle.
With how much money the Texans currently have, there are zero excuses for not signing DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney to long-term extensions. Hopkins will want to be paid like a top five receiver (and he arguably should be), while Clowney would likely command somewhere in the neighborhood of $16-$17 million dollars a year on the open market. That is of course a lot of money to invest in just two players, but when those two players are among the most important pillars of your entire team, it's worth it.
Pay them, Rick.
The focus should be on re-signing Clowney and Hopkins. Investing in any player in this market right now would be a folly, I think. Hopkins should be the focus and securing him for as long as the Texans can is a must. Whatever the QB situation turns out to be, having a stud WR like Hopkins is always going to help.
Being proactive on Clowney should also be a priority, considering he might be looking at a completely different kind of payout after another season of fantastic play. He and his agent might not want to start talking now, considering his potential, but the Texans have always been prudent and fair when it comes to getting contracts in place before a player’s existing deal is up (see J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing), so hopefully Houston can give Clowney enough to keep him around long-term.
Your thoughts, BRB?