HOUSTON – At this point, it is clear to most that the Houston Texans are not among the top teams in the league. After their 17-10 defeat at the hands of the Tennessee Titans followed by a Thursday night loss the Eagles (29-17), the Texans sit at 1-6-1, with a half-game lead over the Detroit Lions for the top pick overall in the draft. Most might consider that a bad thing, but for some, the short-term pain may set themselves up for long-term gain.
“Oh, yeah, 2022 is not looking too good. Maybe don’t book those Super Bowl tickets quite yet. However, we are going to be armed with some quality draft picks. Ya know, never got to have this kind of draft fun when I was in New England. Always picking at the end of the draft. Never really getting a chance to get those top-tier prospects, especially at quarterback. It was always, ‘Tahmmy, Tahmmy, Tahmmy…’ I mean, yeah, it would be nice to find the next great sixth rounder, but come on…that ain’t sexy and that doesn’t get the good ESPN ratings. Now, I get to oversee gettin’ the best prospects…that makes this job so much…FUUNNNN!!!” chimed in GM Nick Caserio.
While there is still plenty of college football to be played, several of the top prospects, especially at quarterback, are not unaware of what the future may hold. “Well, yes, the NFL calls, but we are doing so great here at THE Ohio State University. Great team, great facilities, great, lucrative, and completely above-board NIL deals…I mean, yes, you want to prove yourself in the NFL, but I don’t rule out being patient to see if I can go for multiple titles.” Noted starting Buckeye quarterback C.J. Stroud. We did try to ask a follow up about possible concerns if he went to Detroit or Houston, but he was too busy. Saying something about getting ready for Northwestern.
“At least it won’t be Jacksonville…I hope.” Noted a haggard, worn-down Bryce Young. We did ask if he was looking forward to playing for one of the top drafting teams, but he demurred “Well, if I enter the draft, and that is not a given that I will. I mean, the possible caps on salary…don’t have that at Alabama. The college experience is go great, and we are always in the playoffs, so that is a plus.” Young was about to recite some more reasons why staying at Alabama would be great, but then he got a text from the offensive coordinator…which sunk his mood almost immediately. “Then again, even if it is Detroit…or the Tex…the Tex…well, that team, there could be some…advantages. Like, if I wanted to get away from...”
The recent performance of the Texans also spurred some surprising debate in less-expected circles. Several owners requested an emergency meeting with members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) to ask for an exception to the 2020 CBA.
“It was strange to get that call” noted an unnamed NFLPA representative. “I mean, we all figured we got that settled, and that labor issues were not on the table for the next couple of years. Then, this past Monday, we get like multiple phone calls that morning. A bunch of owners and GMs were frantically calling us and Roger (Goodell) asking for an emergency exception. In particular, they are worried about some of their players possibly busting salary cap provisions due to unforeseen circumstances.”
When our reporter asked what exceptions in particular, the representative seemed unsure of all the specifics, but it seemed to involve leadership from the NFC East and AFC South teams.
In follow-up discussions, an unnamed staffer for the NFLPA spoke on condition of anonymity. “All of these owners and GMs, they are really, really worried about performance bonuses they will have to pay out for their running backs. In particular, if those running backs have certain yardage milestones, single game or full season, then that is a lot of money they are out…and it could be brutal for various team cap situations.”
Our reporter asked the question about why all of this worry about running back bonus pay. The response:
“Think about the running backs and teams in those respective divisions. Dallas with Elliot and Pollard, the Eagles with their running offense with Hurts and their backs, the Giants with Barkley and Jones, Washington with whoever they have in the backfield. Then you have the AFC South…guys like Henry, Taylor and Etienne.”
“Huh, interesting. Hey, you missed a team…the Texans with Pierce?”
The response to that comment:
“Well, that’s just it. You see, it was the Texans that were scaring them. You see, they are giving up rushing yards like leftover candy corn. That is what is scaring these billion-dollar owners, worried about the hundreds of thousands they will have to doll out to their respective running backs, generally not a money-making position in the league anymore. There are rumors that the Titans are planning to revise the section in Henry’s contract that he is only getting bonuses if he can get a 200 yard rushing game against non-Houston teams.”
Speaking of Tennessee, our Nashville offices report that rookie starting quarterback Malik Willis was placed on the injured list. While the specifics are a little uncertain, sources state that he is on their for elbow/forearm/wrist issues.
“Did his hurt himself in that game? He was sacked three times, but only threw the ball 10 times, once in the second half.” our Nashville office asked.
“No, but all that handing off to the Titans running backs, the repetitive motion and the battering of full-speed running backs ramming into that arm to get the ball…over a three-hour game, that can take a toll. Might be a carpal tunnel thing. We will have to see.”
When asked about the recent consternation from other NFL teams about costing them money due to excessive running back performance bonuses, Cal McNair only snorted. “How is that my problem? I mean, if they are so worried about running back bonuses breaking up their precious cap space, they could do what we did…put forth a team that will in no way allow any one player to hurt salary projections for the season. Working for us, no?”
Shortly after this statement, the following tweet came out from Brandin Cooks, who, due to mainly “financial” concerns, did not change teams this past week. He did not play against the Eagles, due to...well, we’ll have to check the HFR to find out the exact reason, but he did send out the following:
Come what may, the Texans will still move forward in the 2022 season. After this short week of double losses, the Texans will look to rebound against the Giants. If Barkley and the other remaining running backs some how break the bank, or Houston’s hearts, we at Totally Not Fake News will be there to report on all the details, good, bad and (probably) ugly.