In an offseason jammed packed with things to generate fan dismay and displeasure, is there really just one item that tops the list of regrets? Not unlike draft picks, the true measure of success and failure of offseason moves isn’t realized for years. But this is the noon-day calm of NFL news, so we scrounge for things to write about like a lost soul at sea, desperately scanning for land. The fine folks at Bleacher Report put together a list of the “1 Big Regret Every NFL Team Should Have from the 2021 Offseason”.
For many teams, that regret might be painfully obvious. With Houston, it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of bad choices guaranteed to lead to football food poisoning. Here’s our list of soon-to-be regrets:
Houston Texans Retain Jack Easterby
After following the NFL for nearly five decades, never has there been a front office persona so clearly responsible for the meteoric decline of a team who wasn’t cast off with an albatross necklace as a lovely parting gift. Yet here Easterby sits, killin’ it in the kill the franchise department.
Houston Texans Sour the Deshaun Watson Relationship
Let’s face it. Odds are the souring began long before the current offseason. Under Bob and Cal McNair, the Texans have never really been known as the team that treasures their players. From the infamous “inmates running the prison” crack by the senior McNair before his passing to the litany of young players who blame the team for ruining their careers (a la Jaelen Strong) and two of the greatest players the team has ever seen in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson publicly attacking team leadership, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. Deshaun Watson is simply the latest example, though how much Texans fans will continue to sulk about the deterioration of that relationship in the wake of all the sexual assault allegations against Watson remains to be seen.
Houston Texans Pass on Great Coaching Candidates to Hire David Culley
This one speaks for itself. Anyone who knows anything about the 2020-21 coaching searches is as baffled as it gets over this move. Houston was the first team to have a crack at the available talent pool and the last team to make a hire. In the process, they passed on Robert Saleh, Dan Campbell, Arthur Smith, Eric Bieniemy, Joe Brady, Todd Bowles, Brian Daboll, Leslie Frazier, and Matt Eberflus. Not only was Culley not ever listed among the top 10 coaching candidates for 2021, he wasn’t mentioned on any list of candidates for anything other than the job he already had.
Now, you could say some of these candidates backed away from the Texans like a kid who touched a hot stove for the first time. But surely not all of them did.
When Culley’s first big move is to cancel minicamp for a team that had an historic level of player turnover while installing a new defensive scheme and altering the existing offensive one, it’s pretty clear that for Culley, NFL stands for “not for long”.
Houston Texans Shuffle Deck Chairs to Clear Cap Space, Then Waste It
This is another dead horse beaten too many times. It still deserves to make this list. Top amongst the blunders is trading for a backup quarterback no one else wanted and then waiving him. They kicked the can of bad contracts down NRG Parkway, freeing unnecessary space this season at the expense of next year. They traded away Benardrick McKinney for a lesser linebacker who cost more money. At this point, the head scratching is drawing blood.
Now we come to the aforementioned Bleacher Report winner in Houston offseason whiffs.
Houston Texans: Not Moving Quickly on a Deshaun Watson Trade
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson requested a trade in January, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Rather than moving quickly to deal the three-time Pro Bowler, Houston waited.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans had planned to deal Watson closer to the NFL draft. This was a logical decision. The quarterback’s trade value may have peaked in the weeks leading up to the late-April event as teams figured out who would have a crack at the top rookie prospects.
However, 22 women came forward with sexual assault allegations.
Per Will Hobson of the Washington Post: “The 22 women have accused Watson of committing a variety of lewd acts during massages, ranging from inappropriate remarks and exposing himself to, in two cases, forcing women to perform oral sex. Houston police and the NFL have both opened investigations into the allegations, which Watson has denied.”
Watson is essentially untradeable. Until the criminal and league investigations and civil lawsuits are resolved, he is likely to remain so—though Houston insists that a decision is coming soon.
“As we get more information, as we get closer to training camp, we’ll try to make the best decision for the Houston Texans, whatever that entails,” general manager Nick Caserio told Sports Radio 610 (h/t Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk).
While waiting on a trade made sense at the time, Houston probably already regrets not pulling the trigger on a deal when it had the chance. Watson probably isn’t suiting up for the Texans again, and if the allegations are true, he rightfully may never play in the NFL again.
This might just lead to the biggest regret of all, which has its roots in the recent past, like so many other current Texans maladies.
Houston Texans Utterly Failed To Take Advantage of Deshaun Watson’s Rookie Contract
While this wasn’t a move made in 2021, the same people who failed to grab this brass ring are still calling the shots behind the scenes; with the addition of Nick Caserio, that is.
Very few NFL teams ever get a quarterback the caliber of Deshaun Watson. When they do, if they aren’t smart enough to surround that player with enough talent to win it all, the failure can echo for years—if not decades. You don't have to listen very closely to hear this one echoing like a dissent gong through everything Houston Sports right now.
The last entry on this list is more pipe dream induced than a realistic blunder, but it deserves mention regardless as the fall out from it is all consuming:
The McNair Family Won’t Sell the Team
While Bob McNair seemed to have the passion, business acumen, and critical decision-making skills to run this team from expansion franchise to a mere 120 minutes from Super Bowl glory, the apple fell so far from the tree it’s no longer in the same zip code.
With stories emerging that team employees refer to Cal McNair as “Tommy Boy”, to Cal’s baffling, embarrassing press conferences, to his sad devotion to Easterby, it’s clear to almost everyone that this team will not rise again under Cal’s leadership (or lack thereof). With only 32 franchises available, the list of sharp business people with the skill and passion to run an NFL franchise is far longer than the number of available seats at the table.
With Cal’s alleged love of video games, he could sell the Texans and buy a floundering software company run as poorly as the Texans, like Respawn Entertainment, and then spend his hours digging for diamonds in Minecraft (until one of his employees points out Respawn doesn’t own Mojang; Microsoft does).
While there are so many more things to add to this list, it has to end somewhere...or does it? What are your biggest disappointments for the current offseason?