The majority of people who care about these things felt the 2021 Houston Texans would be a sacrifice of the present for a better and more beautiful future. Short-term contracts. Trading Deshaun Watson. Paying off Bill O’Brien’s monstrous and imbecilic contracts. Going 0-16, 1-15, 2-14, 3-13, or whatever you want to call it to get the most out of their 2022 NFL Draft.
Nick Caserio had other ideas. Instead of taking his lumps this season, Caserio has instead pushed things down the road. He created cap space for 2021 at the cost of increasing salaries for future seasons, when the Texans could play competent football again.
In case you forgot, Caserio restructured Brandin Cooks (who was owed $0 guaranteed money) to create $10.16 million in cap space, David Johnson (who should have been outright released) to create $3.7 million, Laremy Tunsil (who will have a cap hit of $26 million next year) to create $10.16 million, Whitney Mercilus (who won’t create cap space when he is released next season) to create $4 million, Zach Cunningham to create $5.63 million, and now Shaq Lawson to create $5.25 million. This work netted the Texans $35.21 million in cap space.
This was done to create room in a restricted cap year due to lowered profits because of the pandemic. It comes at the cost of future cap space. The Texans won’t suffer the consequences of O’Brien’s haphazard contract management this year. Instead, they watered it down and let it ooze to other seasons.
Caserio has turned the newfound cap space into a long list of bad football players and five real football players. This offseason he has acquired Tae Davis (LB), Ryan Izzo (TE), Desmond King (CB), Cole Toner (OL), Cameron Johnston (P), Ryan Finley (QB), Donte Moncreif (WR), Justin McCray (OL), Joe Thomas (LB), Andre Roberts (WR), Terrance Brooks (S), Chris Moore (WR), Alex Erickson (WR), Kamu Grugier-Hill (LB), Kevin Pierre-Louis (LB), Terrance Mitchell (CB), Mark Ingram (RB), Maliek Collins (DL), Marcus Cannon (OL), Shaq Lawson (EDGE), Phillip Lindsay (RB), Tyrod Taylor (QB), Derek Rivers (DE), Christian Kirksey (LB), Hardy Nickerson Jr. (LB), Tremon Smith (CB), Justin Britt (C), Tavierre Thomas (CB), Jordan Steckler (OL), Paul Quessenberry (TE), Vincent Taylor (DT), Jordan Jenkins (OLB), Chris Conley (WR).
Offering short-term contracts to find bargains was the correct move to make for a team with a little bit of cap space, one that lacked overall talent, and one with the quarterback position in flux. This was the right path, but the huge list of players to create ‘competition, and signing bad players when good players were available for similar contracts is perplexing. The Texans just need talent, not depth, when their current best player likely to suit up for Houston again is a left tackle. The roster is filled with players who already have the talent level of the players added to the roster. Additionally, adding depth like the Texans did would have been a move more congruent with a team that features top level talent to spread out the risky of injury.
All the Texans did this offseason was add a lot of bad players to an already bad football team.
That being said, the roster is far from finished. Caserio created additional cap space for another move or moves. Is he creating space for the upcoming undrafted free agent class to create even more competition and turn the Texans into a wartime draft? Is he looking to add more of the same caliber of players since there are plenty of those kinds of signings available? Is he creating space to take on the $5.6 million cap immediate hit Houston faces if they trade Deshaun Watson and/or for the players Houston would receive in return?
Whatever the reason, the picture is incomplete. The recent slurry of restructures was made for another future move or moves, not solely for the current horde added to the roster. With the 2021 NFL Draft taking place at the end of the month, we will all know exactly what Caserio has in store soon enough.