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Re-Imagining Houston’s Last Nine Months

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What they did versus what they should have done.

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last year, it should come as no surprise that your Houston Texans have made some head-scratching moves over the last nine months.

Since this is the offseason, and every “trve” fan is well-versed in armchair quarterbacking, let’s armchair general manage the team by imagining how life could be with better personnel management, leadership, or at least, more team-friendly decision-making. While we don’t know all the behind-the-scenes details, contract negotiations, and personality conflicts, we can see the evidence of what it’s done to the roster.

Let’s re-imagine this and see where we end up.

Mike:

1. What They Did: Trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.

What They Should Have Done: Franchise tagged Clowney and continued to negotiate a long-term deal that would suit both sides. In the event they couldn’t come to terms by the end of the 2019 season, let Clowney test the free agent waters and learn what he’s learning right now, then welcome him back home to H-Town to finish what he started.

2. What They Did: Traded 2 first round picks, a 2nd round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

What They Should Have Done: Made sure to lock Tunsil down long-term prior to finalizing the trade. Isn’t that GM 101? Somewhere in the most basic of managerial trainings there’s a concept regarding protecting your investment. Trading away valuable long-term assets without protecting your return smacks of incompetence. As it stands right now, 31 other teams are probably licking their chops at the chance to snake Tunsil away from Houston the moment his 2020 contract expires. If Tunsil’s new agent has even the slightest clue, he’s going to high-ball the snot out of O’Brien knowing if the Texans don’t pay up, they lose out on all the draft capital they sunk into the trade.

3. What They Did: Traded DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd round pick and David Johnson.

What They Should Have Done: Paid DeAndre Hopkins an average of the Top 5 wideouts in the NFL in a contract that would see him retire in battle red, then traded Will Fuller V to the LA Rams for Brandin Cooks. Then, brought the money they’re paying David Johnson to bear in an attempt to sign Derrick Henry away from the Titans. The Texans would have the most lethal receiving corps in football, O’Brien would finally have his a-gap pile driver for the running game and fans wouldn’t be burning Houston’s HC/GM in effigy.

Capt Ron:

1. What They Did: Trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.

What They Should Have Done: Traded him for a 2nd round pick (or more) well prior to the franchise tag situation so he could have negotiated a new contract with another team in that process. Otherwise, maintained the franchise tag and negotiated something long term. If he sat out, or played, and then left in free agency, they still would have received a 3rd round compensatory as a result. Clearly this was about “cultural fit” and O’Brien purging anyone from the locker room who isn’t 100% on board with the “team first” mentality. His idea of labor relationships are similar to the pre-union days in factories. If a player isn’t completely dedicated to the team and is seeking personal gain—pro tip: professionals expect to get paid for their services—then O’Brien will ship that player out to set an example for others to not come looking to get paid.

2. What They Did: Traded 2 first round picks, a 2nd round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

What They Should Have Done: Tunsil was worth this trade value if you consider that they would have had to trade a future 1st round pick along with their current 1st round pick to move up and secure a top offensive tackle in the draft, and they secured a “sure thing” young star in Tunsil vs an unproven rookie, but they absolutely should have secured the contract extension as part of the deal.

3. What They Did: Traded DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd round pick and David Johnson.

What They Should Have Done: Driven the team car into the Houston Ship Channel and let the Texans bring in a new front office; preferably new ownership as well. They easily could have reworked his contract that he was clearly outperforming, and THAT would have been the right thing to do. Instead of rewarding a top player, they ran him out of town because O’Brien didn’t think Hopkins was putting the team first. Well that, and apparently too many baby mommas hanging around the facility, which is a questionable circumstance that might have been a racially-oriented firing offense for a coach or executive in most other organizations, but #CalMcNairDoesNotCare!

Bill O’Brien has managed to turn the Texans franchise into an incredible NCAA D1 squad filled with high-character, gritty, hard-practicing players who are bought in to his “team first” culture. He is not a coach who knows how to manage professional athletes who have generational talent combined, at times, with a variety of personalities and independent thoughts that may conflict with his view of football. He should not be coaching at the NFL level given this deficiency along with terrible in-game decision making. He should also not be a GM in the NFL given his complete lack of asset value and negotiating skills.

Carlos:

1. What They Did: Signed Eric Murray to a 3-year, $18,000,000 contract.

What They Should Have Done: Murray was a decent depth addition and plays plenty of special teams. However, the rent is just too darn high for this player. There wasn’t a soul that could have predicted this signing at this price. This money could have went towards someone like HaHa Clinton-Dix or Vonn Bell.

2. What They Did: Took on David Johnson’s full salary in the Arizona trade.

What They Should Have Done: This trade shouldn’t have happened, but I’ve made my peace with losing DeAndre Hopkins. The biggest issue at hand is the cap hit. David Johnson is responsible for the second highest cap hit among Running Backs. This should have been negotiated down or split up. Taking on the entire salary just fortifies that BOB’s issue with D-HOP wasn’t about the money.

3. What They Did: Signed Randall Cobb to a 3-year, $27,000,000 contract.

What They Should Have Done: This was a band-aid on a bullet hole. Bringing in Cobb at that price is a hard bargain. For just a couple million dollars more per year, we could have retained a top 3 Wide Receiver. Elsewhere on the market, Robby Anderson signs for 2-years and $20,000,000. Considering there is a stacked WR class incoming, it seems that leadership feels veteran players are the way to go.

Matt Weston, Lover of All Things TITAN-ic:

1. What They Did: Trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.

What They Should Have Done: Not trade Clowney and let him play under the franchise tag in 2019. Martin, Mingo, and Gareon Conley led to Houston having the 26th ranked pass defense by DVOA. Clowney is a great edge defender and football player. Get your box score sniffing out of here. Just because someone doesn’t play for the Texans doesn’t make him a great player anymore. And if you want to live in a universe where they trade Clowney, then they should have traded him in March, or April, or May, anytime ahead of the contract extension deadline. It would have also been nice to sign him to a 3-year $54 million extension this offseason.

2. What They Did: Traded 2 first round picks, a 2nd round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

What They Should Have Done: Not sign Matt Kalil to be the team’s starting left tackle, and although I like Max Scharping at guard, and Tytus Howard could become a good right tackle if he learns how to play the position, neither one could play the position they were drafted to play, leading to Houston trading for Tunsil. The easiest way to fix this would have been drafting Andre Dillard last year, and all those bad things you saw on your newsfeed last season was Dillard playing right tackle, a position he’s never played before. He should be able to be a plus pass blocker this season. It would have also been nice if they never moved Davenport to right tackle and derail his career in Houston. What they should have done is substantially addressed the left tackle position in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft instead of allow get things to get to the point they did, leading to a desperate coach making a desperate trade.

3. What They Did: Traded DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd round pick and David Johnson.

What They Should Have Done: Just keep Hopkins. The offense is worse without him. They have an enormous first down converting hole in their offense. Three years away from free agency Hopkins didn’t have any leverage, and even if you want to give in and pay him, $3 million extra a year isn’t going to kill the team. Teams aren’t bad because they pay great players a lot of money. They’re bad because they pay bad and mediocre players a lot of money. Eric Murray is a perfect example. The Hopkins trade was because of a sour employee/employer relationship, not because of money.

Texans Thoughts:

1. What They Did: Trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.

What They Should Have Done: This trade netted us Jacob Martin, and a season of Big Play Mingo, all is well with me. Watch as Jacob Martin breaks the single season sack record and wins DPOY.

2. What They Did: Traded 2 first round picks, a 2nd round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

What They Should Have Done: They should’ve tried their hardest to keep Bademosi. Say it with me now: SPECIAL TEAMS, SPECIAL TEAMS, SPECIAL TEAMS!

3. What They Did: Traded DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd round pick and David Johnson.

What They Should Have Done: By asking for a new contract 3 years in advance, Hopkins was not operating in the best interest of the T.E.A.M. David Johnson on the other hand, is not asking for a new contract. G.O.O.D. T.R.A.D.E.

Jeremy Brener:

1. What They Did: Trade Hopkins

What They Should’ve Done: Twiddle Their Thumbs

Sometimes the best move is no move at all. Hopkins’ contract would have become an area of concern at some point, but they pulled the trigger a year too soon and could have squeezed another season of Nuk’s prime in Houston. But of course not...

Now it’s your turn. Join us in re-imagining life with Bill O’Brien as the Texans general manager/flat Hydra Kaiser. Here’s a template for you to make life easy:

1. What They Did: Trading Jadeveon Clowney for a 3rd round pick, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin.

What They Should Have Done:

2. What They Did: Traded 2 first round picks, a 2nd round pick, Johnson Bademosi and Julien Davenport for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

What They Should Have Done:

3. What They Did: Traded DeAndre Hopkins for a 2nd round pick and David Johnson.

What They Should Have Done: