Earlier this offseason, rather than do the right thing, the Texans did the wrong thing, and kept David Johnson around for another year. Rather than admit failure, they hung onto their previous disaster, and kept Johnson to a revised one-year contract worth $5 million that will pay out $4.25 million guaranteed. Johnson has a cap hit of $4.8 million this season.
Not only that, but they signed the old and washed up Mark Ingram to a one-year contract worth up to $3 million, and kept backup running backs Dontrelle Hilliard and Buddy Howell on the roster. The Texans had devoted $9.5 million to four bad running backs on the least consequential part of the roster.
Nick Caserio’s decision of signing players to short term prove it contracts makes sense. The Texans are probably going to trade Deshaun Watson—even with the allegations that keep piling up—and this will be a rebuilding year. These players are lottery tickets. The opportunities for compensatory picks and trade deadline late round selections. The problem though is nearly all of these players aren’t good. Whether it’s Christian Kirksey, or Terrance Mitchell, or Kamu Grugier-Hill, we already know what these players are, there isn’t another level of intrigue to uncover. Someone isn’t trading a pick for Mitchell. No one is signing Kirksey during the compensatory pick window next year. Just because the Texans did doesn’t mean other teams will.
The other problem is he went after bottom of the roster churning talent right when free agency opened. Of course Maliek Collins, who had one quarterback hit last year, would sign a $6 million contract right away. He was awful last year. Why risk hanging on until August when an opportunity like this presented itself right away. These players would be available forever. By going all in instantly, the Texans limited their ability to sign players once cuts are made, and more talented players are released due to salary cap restrictions, or post-draft roster changes.
It already seems like Caserio has learned the error of his ways. Players like Derek Rivers, Desmond King, and now Phillip Lindsay, are the players a rebuilding team should target. Former intriguing prospects, and younger players with a high talent level who have already performed in the NFL, should have been their targets—not Justin McCray.
Phillip Lindsay is the perfect rebuilding football player. He has two seasons under his belt as a number one running back who can carry a midzone run game, and is great in the passing game. He’s coming off an injured season where Melvin Gordon ate away at his workload. And he accidentally became a free agent after a restricted free agent tender disagreement. Now he’s a Houston Texan.
The only solace is that Caserio can back out of these previous mistakes. If he wants, he could cut Ingram, Howell, an Hilliard this summer, or right now even, to add actual talent to this roster. The opportunity cost of these signings pushed Houston to the brinks of the salary cap, and limits their flexibility to go after the next Lindsay.
Instead of loving the quantity, you should be focused on the quality and the quantity. You can sign good players on short term cheap contracts. Lindsay and King are examples of this. Kevin Pierre-Louis isn’t.