I hate to say it, but Nick Caserio’s first day of free agency was a good one. The lead up to the opening of free agency was fraught with recognizable Houston Texans’ players being sent away. If you asked any Texans fan, they would have predicted Houston being less active than a bear in hibernation during free agency. Little did the clamoring Houston Texans fanbase know, but these moves were to free up cap space for a flurry of additions this week. If Caserio & Co. are looking to impress Watson with their intention to reload instead of rebuild, they took their best shot at it. It maybe a little too late, but the effort is appreciated with at least this writer.
Several moves in particular when strung together to form a unique narrative. It may be a part of the overall evolution of the story, but the Houston Texans offensive line underwent a semi-transformation on the opening day of free agency.
Marcus Cannon is a offensive lineman that would have made former offensive line coach Mike Devlin drool. His versatility (yick I’m glad we don't have to use that word as much) across the offensive line makes him a cork in the glass bottle that is this offensive line. Cannon is most utilized as a gritty right tackle whose run blocking is far superior to his pass blocking. Cannon could compete for a myriad of positions across the offensive line.
On it’s face, the Texans are going to pay $7 million for a dormant offensive lineman with the same skill set as offensive tackle Roderick Johnson. However, Caserio wouldn’t sign a player like Cannon without having a plan. It’s an unnecessary risk to acquire a player who has not played a down in over a year to suddenly be your starting (insert every position that isn’t left tackle or center) for the next two years.
One solution, albeit more risky than bringing on Cannon, would be to trade Laremy Tunsil and his great big enormous contract. Tytus Howard would make his way over to left tackle, Cannon would slide in at right, and the Texans would add a draft pick or two. Obviously not the bounty that they sold to get him, but something in return would be nice.
Half of the logic would be to rid the new front office of Tunsil’s contract. According to Spotrac, if the Texans were to trade Tunsil before 6/1, they would save almost $10 million on the cap. $10 million, a first round draft pick, and a marginal decrease in offensive line play sound pretty good to me. Especially if Watson isn’t back there to protect, making this move could be worthwhile.
The Texans also added Justin McCray, an offensive guard most recently with Atlanta. McCray was with new offensive line Coach James Campen at both Green Bay and Cleveland is a system guy who has been brought into help train up the other players on the (can’t be much worse) scheme. This move more solidifies the interior offensive line corp than anything. Unless, of course, Cannon takes over at a guard position, then McCray becomes more of a utility man. McCray’s tiny contract will have little effect on Tunsil’s standing with the team, but it does go to show that the new front office is looking for fresh blood to build around.
For Tunsil, it can’t be a good sign that every other Pro Bowler on the roster has been traded. All of the big contracts are being sent away, and now the spotlight is shining on Tunsil as his fate is being decided by a new regime. Trading Tunsil would be the worst decision to help convince quarterback Deshaun Watson to stay. But if both Watson and Tunsil are to go, that’s a significant amount of draft capital and salary cap that Caserio would have to work with. Throw in trades for veterans Whitney Mercilus and Randall Cobb, and now the Texans could save $25-30 million dollars before the season starts. Now that’s making money moves.