Yesterday’s NFL franchise tag deadline came and went without the Texans using it on any player. Speculation swirled they might use it to keep Will Fuller around, but with so many question marks about the speedy wideout’s career, it wasn’t that likely.
Will Fuller, as expected, wasn't designated as a franchise player. Unrestricted free agent should do well on open market, net the Texans a third-round compensatory draft pick— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 9, 2021
Pro Football Focus recently dubbed Fuller as one of the most overrated free agents of 2021.
OVERRATED: WILL FULLER V
2020 team: Texans | Age entering 2021 season: 27
Speed kills. And even if a receiver with pace doesn’t personally reap the benefit of that threat, the effect he has on the offense around him is obvious. This has been the logic with Fuller during his time in Houston despite five straight seasons of failing to crack either 1,000 receiving yards or double-digit touchdowns.
When DeAndre Hopkins was in town, Fuller was the receiver who seemed to make a notable difference to the offense when he played, but that same impact wasn’t there in 2020, even if he had a career year. Fuller produced an overall PFF grade of 86.2, and Deshaun Watson recorded a passer rating of 132.5 when throwing in his direction.
With the franchise tag likely to be used liberally on the top receivers in the class, a team in need of a proven playmaker could throw big money Fuller’s way. He is a nice complementary piece but might not move the needle by himself the way that contract will expect him to. Fuller will also miss the first game of the 2021 season because of a previous suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Odds are a team like the Green Bay Packers will make Fuller a very wealthy man. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Houston Texans to be that team. With continuing cap issues, gaping holes all over the roster, and Fuller’s inability to ever remain fully available, the only reason to keep him would revolve around keeping Deshaun Watson happy.
That ship has sailed.
Like the David Culley hiring, this move may also signify that Watson will eventually be traded. Keeping Tim Kelly around isn’t true appeasement. Keeping Fuller is closer. This decision will make more sense in hindsight once the coffee mug has been dropped and Watson is playing football in Miami, New York, Carolina, Los Angeles, or anywhere else besides Houston.
Thankfully, Fuller produced some great moments in Texans history. We can always cling to those while we commiserate over what Hack Easterby has done to this team.