It’s fall in Houston, Texas. The air is crisp. The leaves are turning. The Astros are... something... and Will Fuller V has another significant injury.
The fourth-year wide receiver is no doubt an incredibly dynamic presence, as evidenced by steep offensive performance drop-offs in past seasons when he’s missed time. But this is beyond maddening.
It was announced in April that the Texans picked up Fuller’s 5th-year option in 2020 for just over $10 million. Similarly, the Texans picked up Kevin Johnson’s 5th-year option for 2019 in April of 2018, but they cut Johnson in March 2019. As with Johnson, there would be no negative cap implications if the Texans were to cut bait with Fuller before the 2020 season.
But should they cut bait on Fuller? Conventional wisdom would seem to scream “no” due to his incredible production when healthy, but at this point it’s all but a given that you are going to get about 7-12 games maximum out of Fuller per season. He managed to play 14 games his rookie season in 2016, followed by 10 in 2017, seven in 2018, and seven so far in 2019 with a “significant hamstring pull” to recover from.
I asked the BRB staff, essentially, if a half-year of Will Fuller V at $10 million was worth it, or should the Texans move on? Of course other related opinions were shared along the way. Let’s see what the staff had to say.
It’s still the middle of the season. Wait and see. Things like that.
Now that that is out of the way, the Texans made the correct move in exercising Will Fuller V’s fifth year option. He’s dynamic, better than just a deep threat, revolutionizes the offense when he’s on, and even when he drops passes, it sends football shock waves throughout the defense to open up other receivers.
That being said, he’s owed $10 million next season. The Texans are without their first two draft picks, the Jadeveon Clowney pick, and without either a third or a fourth depending on how many more games Duke Johnson plays. Sure, they’ll get some additional contemporary picks, but the Texans’ draft class is pretty much set.
Houston really isn’t at a point where they can spend $10 million on a scratch-off ticket. They need production they can count on. Fuller isn’t that. As much as I love Fuller’s speed, golden locks, puppy dog eye black, and all the touchdown passes, Houston isn’t in a place where they should keep him. As of right now, I think Houston should move on from him after this season.
Will Fuller gives me a sad.
He’s an incredible weapon, no doubt. He strikes fear in the heart of both defensive backs AND orthopedic surgeons, the latter of which is probably a bad thing.
I think we should ride out that 5th year. We should have the cap space next year as the hell that will be Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil’s contract extensions shouldn’t yet be too burdensome (depending on timing), Extracting a last gasp, final eight or so games from him would be better than trading him, I believe.
I’m also old enough to remember when a certain devilishly handsome blogger was not excited about Fuller for the same reasons we are discussing him now.
Keeping Fuller, on paper, is a great idea. But like Weston said, keeping him in reality may not be so smart. If I was the incoming general manager, I’d be on the phone looking for someone willing to give up a higher round draft pick for Fuller. A team that’s draft rich and one speedster from winning it all. The Texans can’t stand pat on the scorched earth draft pool they currently have for 2020 and Fuller has all the makings of a guy someone will take a flyer on instead of risking a draft pick on a rookie who might never contribute at all.
That being said, who knows, Bill O’Brien might pay Fuller $7 million and trade him to the Buccaneers for a long snapper and conditional 5th round pick in 2021 (no, it’s not time for me to get over the Clowney thing...and it may never be...so stop asking).
There’s a term many of us are familiar with, “glass cannon,” which is often used to describe someone who can unleash devastating destruction upon the intended target, but with substantial risk of damaging themselves in the process. Mages and other casting character roles in video games are often described in this manner based on their incredible offensive abilities but are typically fragile due to lack of defensive armor. I’d suggest that Will Fuller has earned this description as well based on his history. The dude can destroy the enemy in a single big play, but he may end up injured for weeks or months afterward.
I would not invest in a “glass cannon” in the NFL given the limits of a 53-man roster. The unpredictability is an unreliable factor that can ruin the best game plan when not available. If they expand the rosters in the new CBA, it might be worth the luxury of investment in an explosive weapon with possible long cool down periods during injury recovery.
The Texans should keep Fuller through his fifth year and then let the market take him away. This is going to be one of those situations where the second he leaves, he never gets injured again and sets the league on absolute fire. I already like the Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee vibe we have going on. Especially since Fuller would be a high priced free agent, we would probably receive a third round pick for letting him go.
Speed can be found, though as apparent with Will Fuller, hands are much harder to come by. So is health.
If there is a way to calculate WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in the NFL, I’d have to say that the WR position probably has a very low WAR overall. For Will Fuller, his health is not only taxing to him physically, but it forces the Texans to constantly address the WR position with more cushion in case he goes out. Probably why we traded for Kenny Stills instead of a CB in the Tunsil deal with Miami.
The Texans should trade Will Fuller if given the opportunity. They should cut him as a last resort. But he definitely shouldn’t be on the roster when next season rolls around.
I love Will Fuller and everything he brings to the offense. He and Deshaun seem to have really good chemistry on deep throws and he stretches the field in a way that few receivers can. He drops a few too many passes, but I can live with that if he scores enough. I think he’s a really special player. He isn’t great, but he’s above-average.
Even though I believe all of what I just wrote, I think the Texans are better off letting him go. They clearly aren’t going to get full seasons out of Fuller and it’s hard to justify his cap hit when he misses half a season every year. I believe they are already leaning in this direction by bringing Kenny Stills in. He isn’t quite the talent that Fuller is, but he is more consistent and rarely misses time (the last few games being an exception).
With the Texans making moves all over the place, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them attempt to move Fuller in the offseason for a few picks to try and recoup some draft capital.
Still, I feel like you have to take the chance Fuller could have a healthy 2020. He’s just that good when he’s right. After that, maybe you get a nice compensatory pick when he walks. Alternately, with Kenny Stills around, I wouldn’t mind the Texans shopping Fuller to see if they can recoup some of the draft capital they’ve lost due to Trader BO’B’s ongoing tenure as de facto GM.
What are your thoughts on Fuller’s future in Deep Steel Blue? Use the comments section to let us know your thoughts!