Last season, there were a number of anti-protest reports that came out of the Texans’ organization. In an ESPN story that ran in late October, Bob McNair was alleged to have said that the NFL couldn’t have inmates running the prison. Recently, Duane Brown, no longer a Texans employee, shared his story about the Texans not giving him a promised platform to discuss his own protest and comments McNair made after the 2008 election.
Because of this, it was reasonable to wonder whether these stories would affect Houston’s ability to sign free agents. Culture is important. If an organization’s views and norms don’t mesh with your own, it can create conflict, and the way an organization is run factors in on a player’s free agency decisions. It was going to be interesting to see if players who protested before would opt to sign elsewhere if the contracts were similar to what Houston offered.
Instead, it’s now being reported that the Texans are making that decision themselves when it comes to potential free agents.
Jerome Solomon wrote that there’s talk from agents that Houston is not interested in players who participated in national anthem protests last season:
The Texans haven’t been freed from the public relations handcuffs slapped on them after McNair’s comment at a league meeting last fall that referenced the “inmates running the prison.”
Texans players didn’t buy McNair’s apology that he wasn’t calling the players inmates.
This could be a factor in the Texans’ free-agency pursuits. But money talks, and the Texans have plenty to spend.
But there may be another issue that will affect the Texans’ offseason player acquisitions.
I spoke with two NFL agents this week who said word is the Texans aren’t interested in any players who participated in pregame kneel-downs in protest of police brutality.
There is no directive within the organization, but it is considered to be understood that as desperate as the Texans are to bring in talent, the pool of potential signees and draftees will not include anyone who has participated in protests or are likely to.
If this is true, this would limit the available players Houston would be interested in signing this offseason. It could also possibly affect contract negotiations for current players like Jadeveon Clowney, who already mocked McNair’s comments last Halloween. To some, this development may support the argument that Houston’s reason for not signing Colin Kaepernick once Deshaun Watson went down was not entirely football-related. It could affect the decisions of players who didn’t protest last season but were in favor of the players that did.
If this is true, here is a list of players who protested. Let’s see if the Texans pursue and/or sign any of them.
UPDATE: The Texans have issued a statement denying the veracity of the report.
In response to inaccurate reports regarding potential free agent signings... pic.twitter.com/CvI67Y91Uo— Amy Palcic (@amypalcic) March 6, 2018