Even though teams made their final cuts on Tuesday, teams definitely aren’t done making moves. Teams will add and subtract more players as they claim players on waivers and sign their practice squads. So, we will wait until all of the dust settles until we make our final grades on training camp, but three moves the Houston Texans made demonstrate a ton of growth in the organization.
Nick Caserio immediately demonstrated that he was an adult in the room based on his handling of the Deshaun Watson situation. Now that the Watson situation has been resolved (for better or worse) we can focus on some of the smaller decisions to see how he will move forward as a general manager. Only a handful of executives can claim to be the best in the NFL with a straight face. I don’t know if Caserio is quite there yet, but we have seen some signs of improvement.
Cutting Marlon Mack
This might not have been the hardest decision in a pure football sense, but it probably was the most difficult decision psychologically. The other two decisions that we will go over involve players from a previous regime. Mack was arguably the highest profile free agent signing from the offseason. The toughest thing any general manager has to do is to admit when they’ve made a mistake.
Of course, as mistakes go this one was a pretty small one. Caserio signed him to a one-year deal for two million dollars. Only $250,000 was guaranteed. So, there is a minimal cap hit there. The contract shows that Caserio knew this possibly wouldn’t work out. Running backs typically haven’t done well coming off of an Achilles injury. You could see many of the comments here that showed that he just wasn’t quite as good as the other running backs in camp.
Cutting him would seem simple enough. He had low guaranteed money and he wasn’t performing. Yet, franchise history would indicate that such a move is rare. Names like Ahman Green and David Johnson immediately come to mind. It means two things for the immediate and distant future. First, we will have the best player at the position getting the majority of the playing time. Secondly, the rest of the players know moving forward that no one will be immune from being cut if they aren’t playing good football.
Trading Ross Blacklock
I wrote about this one last week. The handwriting was on the wall. As a fellow Horned Frog, I hated to see him go, but I acknowledged that he just wasn’t one of the best three or four defensive tackles on the roster. A number of folks lamented that we spent a second round pick on him and only got a pick swap. This is usually when we bring up the concept of sunken costs. He was a second rounder. He hasn’t played like a second rounder, so you aren’t going to get a ton of value for him.
Plus, teams knew that you were going to cut him anyway. So, getting anything of value for him is a net positive. Maybe you can draft something of value with that pick. Roy Lopez was a sixth round pick last season in addition to Garrett Wallow. They are both still on the team and making good contributions to the defense and special teams.
Players grow at different rates, so you have to give higher picks some leeway to grow, but eventually you know it just won’t happen here. You have to remember a couple of things moving forward. For one, he may very well contribute in Minnesota. That doesn’t mean he would have done that here. Sometimes players need to be cut or traded before they wake up. Secondly, we will have guys that were drafted elsewhere that will perform well here for whatever reason. These things usually even out in the end.
Cutting Max Scharping
Again, this was someone else’s mistake. When you put this in concert with trading Lonnie Johnson Jr. and you can see where this will demonstrate growth in the organization. As we will see this season, just because you are getting snaps doesn’t mean you are necessarily contributing to the success of the team. Johnson registered as the worst regular safety in football last season and Scharping was not far behind when compared to the other offensive guards in football.
In the preseason it appeared as if he had perfected what we affectionately call the “look out” block. Scharping actually had a promising rookie season, so it seemed like he would be a good pick. I don’t know if the previous regime moved him around too much or the fact that he had three different offensive line coaches just torpedoed his development. It could be that they just missed the mark when they picked him.
Blacklock and Scharping demonstrate three very important points. First, it shows that all teams make mistakes at all levels of the draft. If a team is hitting .500 in their draft they have had a great draft class. Secondly, we should celebrate when they do hit on picks. Jalen Pitre looks really good right now, so we should celebrate that. Finally, you can compound mistakes by continuing to throw them out there and that is where the team had gotten to with Johnson and Scharping before this season. Moving on from them will ultimately help the team grow.