This is the beginning of a golden era of Texans football.
That may seem like a hyperbolic statement, considering the team is by no means perfect and has shown off flaws with a consistency that many would consider to be the hallmarks of a bad football team. Yet, despite all of this, the Texans may be (if they are not already ) in what can only be described as a ‘‘championship window’’. It’s a time period that is often times fleeting and brief for any team that isn’t the Patriots. This window is a culmination of various factors coalescing together to form what might be the most talented team in the history of the franchise.
Players such as DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney are hitting their primes, which makes them among the best at their position. A defense that is elite at a key facet of the game. Perhaps most importantly of all, the emergence of Deshaun Watson. We’ve waxed lyrical and poetic about Watson various times around this blog, to the point one might mistake him for something of a minor deity capable of feats few could imagine from a quarterback wearing a Texans’ jersey. These factors, and Watson’s emergence in particular, are shaping the potential opening of the Texans ‘‘championship window’’.
In a league that revolves around attempting to maximize the productivity of players against a salary cap, the young quarterback on a rookie contract is Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. The most important position in football is often times the most expensive. The toll it takes on team’s ability to shape and mold a quality roster around the QB is a difficult task at the best of times.
The mathematics are quite simple. If you have a good young quarterback on a rookie deal, you have the cap flexibility to invest on the various other elements of the team that are lacking, thanks to not having to devote $25 million or more to a quarterback’s yearly contract. As soon as the quarterback’s rookie contract runs out and he needs to be extended, the amount of resources available to a team to build and maintain a roster drastically diminishes.
That isn’t just for free agent acquisitions either. The room for error with draft picks is larger when there’s a quality QB under a smaller contract. When you have to pay that quarterback, the limited cap space available stops you from being able to address issues in free agency. The team becomes much more reliant on rookies to fill key positions.
This idea has historical support. Both of Seattle’s Super Bowl appearances in the past decade occurred with Russell Wilson under his rookie contract. Carson Wentz (kind of), Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick were all starting quarterbacks for teams who went to the Super Bowl, and all of those QBs were or still are on their rookie contracts. It was easier for the Seahawks, Eagles, Ravens, and 49ers to invest in stud defenses when they didn’t have to dedicate a huge chunk of their cap to one player.
This is where the Texans are right now. Being in this window means the Texans should be pouring their assets into everything around Watson while they still can. This means doing things like re-signing Jadeveon Clowney because you have no idea when windows like these are going to open again. The Texans should realize the urgency of their current situation. These are the best conditions for a Texans’ title run since the Gary Kubiak led teams in 2011-12. Even then, where the Texans are now is probably better.
The upcoming Texans’ offseason has to be framed within these parameters. Every decision, every draft pick, and every free agent signing will be judged by how it’s going to affect the Texans’ championship window.
The clock is ticking. This window won’t be open forever.