With the fresh sting of Jadeveon Clowney’s trade, which netted your beloved Houston Texans two backup linebackers and a third round pick Houston could have had (albeit a year later) if they’d let Clowney walk in free agency next offseason, we decided to sit and mull over the worst front office moves in franchise history. Before you throw flags for illegal use of negativity, we’re also posting a “best moves” piece in a few days.
Several portions of the Texans’ roster are currently a mess, but the abysmal 2019 off-season is finally behind us. Now Bill O’Brien, Jack Easterby and the rest of the team’s leadership must move forward with what they have, barring any further trades (crazy as it sounds, the rumor mill is still churning that Houston might be where Melvin Gordon eventually lands, among other things) .
Without further adieu, here are the worst front office decisions in Texans history.
TKO (THE Kenneth Oliver):
In no particular order:
Trading Duane Brown.
Letting Brandon Brooks go in free agency.
Not signing Peyton Manning in 2012.
Trading Jadeveon Clowney for crumbs.
Losing Glover Quin in free agency.
Letting A.J. Bouye walk (to the Jaguars of all places).
5. The entire debacle with [Name Redacted], ranked lower than you might otherwise think because it actually led to obtaining Deshaun Watson.
4. Tie: Letting Glover Quin walk in free agency and letting A.J. Bouye walk in free agency.
3. Selecting David Carr instead of Julius Peppers.
2. The entire debacle with tagging and then paying $7MM to unload Clowney to the Seahawks.
1. Not signing Peyton Manning, who allegedly showed interest in Houston, to join a roster that could have won a Super Bowl or two.
Drafting David Carr
Signing [NAME REDACTED].
Letting Glover Quin walk/signing Ed Reed.
Drafting Tony Boselli.
Letting Duane Brown go.
Trading Clowney/picks for some linebackers and a third-rounder.
1. Signing [NAME REDACTED]
2. Letting A.J. Bouye walk.
3. Trading Jadeveon Clowney - TBD, but likely Top 3.
4. Trading Duane Brown.
5. Letting Glover Quin walk.
5. Letting Glover Quin walk to sign the corpse of Ed Reed.
4. Drafting Travis Johnson instead of Derrick Johnson.
3. Letting A.J. Bouye walk.
2. The Jadeveon Clowney clusterkitten.
1. Drafting David Carr.
1. Trading Duane Brown--They didn’t want to pay guaranteed money to a great left tackle. Great tackles have been able to pass protect and age well. That trade dismantled Houston’s entire offensive line, led to selecting two offense linemen early in the draft, led to two first round picks and a second getting traded for Laremy Tunsil once Bill O’Brien realized neither one could play tackle, and yes, Matt Kalil is KITTEN.
2. Trading Jadeveon Clowney--It wasn’t just that they traded Clowney, which was extremely dumb in its own right for a team that all of a sudden is BUILT TO WIN NOW. It was the timing. If they wanted to move Clowney, they should have done it while teams could sign him to a long-term extension. Waiting diminished his trade value and led to Houston grasping for Barkevious Mingo.
3. The Texans should have franchise tagged A.J. Bouye--I don’t understand the immediate revisionist history that occurs within a fan base. There are people online who claim Bouye wanted more money than the Texans wanted to give him. They could have tagged him. Since then, the Texans haven’t found a competent boundary cornerback to replace him. Bouye was incredible in 2017 and whatever last year as he dealt with injuries; he should bounce back this season. Houston had an UDFA fall out of the sky who was a legitimate number one cornerback. Since he left, they have started Shareece Wright as a CB2 and are hoping Bradley Roby can play even adequately against WR1s--SPOILER: He won’t.
4. Trading NAME REDACTED--I understand why they signed NAME REDACTED. I get it. They were desperate for a quarterback after Brian Hoyer’s playoff game. Sure, they should have done a better job scouting and O’Brien could have done a better job developing an offense around him. He was the worst non-rookie quarterback in football that year. But the trade to give up a second round pick to create cap space they didn’t even end up using was abhorrent. The Texans could have just cut him after June 1st to maneuver the bonus money around. Again, they didn’t even put that cap space to use.
5. Ignoring the QB position in 2014--The 2014 quarterback class doesn’t look as good now as it once did. Blake Bortles is a backup. Johnny Manziel is a billboard for some crappy car insurance company. Teddy Bridgewater mangled his leg and is afraid to start somewhere. Derek Carr requires a great offensive line and plenty of time to throw to be a decent quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo tore his knee up but has shown promise. That being said, who knows what Bridgewater, Carr, or Garappolo could have done on a team that wasn’t rebuilding, had a competent run game, offensive line, and great defense. By ignoring the quarterback position and by drafting Tom Savage, the Texans wasted J.J. Watt’s prime and put the Ryan Fitzpatrick-Ryan Mallett--Case Keenum--Brian Hoyer--Ryan Mallett--NAME REDACTED--Tom Savage rocket ship into orbit. Sure, it led to Deshaun Watson, but once again, Houston wasted Watt’s prime because of it.
5. Letting the offensive line fall apart slowly but surely, culminating in the loss of Duane Brown. I really don’t get how anyone can rise to a position of leadership in a pro football franchise and not understand how important the offensive line is to the team’s success.
4. Not signing Rodger Saffold in the 2019 offseason. Having him alongside Laremy Tunsil would really make a big difference. Having Saffold protecting Marcus Mariota is just going to be pouring salt in the wound.
3. Losing Glover Quin and replacing him with Ed Reed. In a Madden game that might have made sense. In real life, Reed should have been signed as a coach. Admittedly, I was excited when Reed was signed, but we all knew once he hit the field that what the Ravens were dropping wasn’t something the Texans should have picked up.
2 (TIE). Signing [NAME REDACTED]. For the money they gave a guy who had proven he was nothing more than a buddy of John Elway’s son, the Texans could have signed 2-3 great offensive linemen and kept going with a revolving door of quarterbacks and been better off. Or they could have drafted Jacoby Brissett or Dak Prescott to play behind the revitalized O-line.
2 (TIE). Letting A.J. Bouye walk without even so much as a “so long and thanks for all the fish.” This will forever be Rick Smith’s biggest black eye in my mind, particularly since Rick was a defensive back in his playing days, someone who should intimately understand the importance of great cornerback play.
1. Paying Jadeveon Clowney to leave. If Houston could have gotten ANY value in return for Clowney, this might not be my #1. As it is, I’m admittedly PO’d by this, as Clowney has been one of my all-time favorite Texans. I hoped and prayed they would draft him back in 2014, clearly remember watching his name called on draft day, watching as the ridiculous pallet turf system (that the agriculture experts at Texas A&M allegedly told the Texans not to install due to the high probability of player injury, as verified in several lawsuits) destroyed his knee. Then Clowney fought back, did everything right, and leaned into becoming a Top 50 NFL player and arguably the best run defender in the NFL. To just stuff Clowney’s pockets with cash, then dump him for a gumball and third round pick, is just dumping salt in the wound. While many Texans fans can find ways to spin this as a good thing, the rest of the NFL world has officially swapped the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans as the punchline to every joke about a poorly run franchise.
Honorable mention: The McNairs’ inability to have a cohesive Head Coach/General Manager team. While Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak worked well for a brief window, the Charley Casserly years were, well, forgettable. The sheer volume of rumors about how Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien butted heads is overwhelming. Add in O’Brien “getting his man” in Brian Gaine, only to see Gaine fired and replaced by a combination of Bill O’Brien and four other “I’m not a GM” guys, and the inability to get this right becomes mind-boggling.
Now that we’ve vented, what do you think are the worst miscues in the Texans’ front office history? Gives us your list in the comments section. Then stay tuned for Part II, in which we recap the best moves.