The Houston Texans are in salary cap hell, that’s no secret. According to OvertheCap.com, Houston currently sits at $13 million over the salary cap heading into the off-season. TFor a team already very low on talent spectrum, this is a rough situation to be in. If the Texans stand any chance of adding talent through free agency or even a chance at re-signing quarterback Deshaun Watson’s favorite target in Will Fuller, money will have to be cleared off the books. Luckily, there are several strong options for the Texans in order to quickly clear cap space.
First, Houston could save roughly $7M if they were to release inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney. McKinney has been a staple of the Texans’ defense for years now, but this may be a good time to move on. The seventh year linebacker only played in 4 games in 2020 before being injured and proved time and time again that he was a liability in coverage. This is money that could probably be better spent on other holes in the Houston roster. Next, the runningbacks in Houston are making a ton of money. David Johnson, acquired from the Arizona Cardinals last year, carries a hefty cap hit and the team would save $6.4M in cutting him. Duke Johnson, the lesser known but arguably more elusive of the two, would create $5M in cap space with no dead money if he was cut. Saving $11M combined, the Texans could then turn towards the draft to find their next replacement.
Along the trenches, three players make immediate sense for new General Manger Nick Caserio to move on from. Zach Fulton and Nick Martin were eye sores on the interior of the offensive line and would save $3M and $6.25M respectively (3.25M in dead money as well). Fulton, the less expensive of the two, would certainly be easy to waive goodbye to. On the defensive side, defensive tackle Brandon Dunn would save the team $3.2M in cap space ($1M dead) and his production could be found in replacement level players next year. Moving away from Fulton and Dunn would additionally be a strong statement as the team pivots away from the Bill O’Brien era.
Finally, the Houston Texans have their nuclear option. Cutting or trading star defensive end JJ Watt would save the team $17.5M in 2021 with no dead cap repercussions. It’s likely the Texans could get significant draft compensation for Watt, making a trade the obvious option here. Watt has openly voiced his recent displeasure with the organization and the team may owe it to him that he can compete for a title to end his career. Questions arise regarding if the stubborn front office would be willing to part ways with the face of their team the past decade, but that’s another issue.
None of this may matter if free agents don’t want to sign with a dysfunctional front office in Houston. However, on the off-chance they’re willing to, Caserio certainly has options to make room in the payroll.
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Article from John Crumpler (Twitter: @Get_Crumped)