Setting the Odds: Will Your Favorite Houston Texan Be Back in 2016?

What to make of Hoyer's return?EXPAND
What to make of Hoyer's return?
Marco Torres

Employee turnover is a fact of life in the business world. It happens. However, if your business is contracting an NFL roster, then turnover is damn near a ritual, as most NFL teams watch roughly a third of their roster churn out the door to be replaced with either cheaper or better (or both!) alternative solutions.  

Many of these decisions happen in the part of the calendar we are in right now  — the period from the day after the Super Bowl to the first week of the NFL business calendar, which begins this year on March 9. As a highly imperfect 9-7 team that got plundered in the first round of the NFL playoffs, the Texans have lots of blemishes to cover up and holes to fill. 

Thus far, no decisions have been outwardly made on potential salary cap casualties, nor have they re-signed any of their own free agents, so let's get on the record before any of that happens. Here is my odds board on the likelihood of returns or departures for several Texans who sit on the bubble right now:

POSSIBLE CAP CASUALTIES

ARIAN FOSTER, Running Back 
2016 Cap: 
$8,925,000
2016 Dead Money: ($2,300,000)
Potential savings:  $6,625,000
ODDS — Return: +600 Depart: -1000
Comment: I am on the record that I hope the Texans find a middle ground with Foster and bring him back as part of a two headed backfield with [FILL IN NAME OF HIGHLY DRAFTED ROOKIE HERE]. I'm just not optimistic that it will happen, especially if the Texans are breaking in a  rookie quarterback. There's a decent chance that Arian could look at the totality of the situation and decide that if there's going to be a pay cut, then a Super Bowl run needs to be in order. 

VINCE WILFORK, Nose Tackle 
2016 Cap: $5,500,000
2016 Dead Money: ($1,500,000)
Potential savings:  $4,000,000
ODDS — Return: -180 Depart: +150
Comment: I think the Texans see Vince Wilfork as a leadership bargain and an on-field-play luxury. Wilfork's future may be determined, in part, by what options are available (and amenable) in free agency. (Ian Williams, anyone?) I think Wilfork will be back, but this could be an easy way to pick up $4,000,000 in cap space if a suitable, younger replacement can be found. 

BRIAN HOYER, Quarterback 
2016 Cap: $4,859,375
2016 Dead Money: $0
Potential savings:  $4,859,375
ODDS — Return: +120 Depart: -150
Comment: I'll be honest, I have no idea what to think about Hoyer's return. From a financial perspective, he's the easiest of all the cuts, as he literally has no dead money. From a P.R. standpoint, cutting him is an easy sell — "Hey, he ruined our postseason!!" But once you get past the anger of four interceptions against the Chiefs and look at it empirically, he is the optimal "veteran stopgap" fit for what this franchise's QB plans appear to be long-term. Also, O'Brien loves him, which can't be discounted.

RAHIM MOORE, Safety 
2016 Cap: $4,068,750
2016 Dead Money: ($2,000,000)
Potential savings:  $2,068,750
ODDS — Return: +600 Depart: -1000
Comment: I'm pretty sure Rahim Moore ran down the tunnel after the Miami game back in October and just kept running. He's gone. 

GARRETT GRAHAM, Tight End 
2016 Cap: $3,875,000
2016 Dead Money: ($750,000)
Potential savings:  $3,125,000
ODDS — Return: +600 Depart: -1000
Comment: The classic "needs a change of scenery" guy, Graham looks the part every training camp, and then ultimately it just hasn't worked out. If you're getting benched in THIS tight end rotation, it's not a great career harbinger. Graham needs a soft landing on the Kubiak down comforter in Denver. 

AKEEM DENT, Inside Linebacker 
2016 Cap: $2,625,000
2016 Dead Money: ($375,000)
Potential savings:  $2,250,000
ODDS — Return: -110 Depart: -110
Comment: Kind of a random throw-in into this section, but I have to believe the Texans feel like they can find someone to do Dent's job — occasional inside linebacker snaps and okay special teams play — for less than a couple million bucks. 

2016 FREE AGENTS

SHANE LECHLER, Punter 
2015 Cap: 
$2,083,334
ODDS — Return: -300 Depart: +200
Comment:
Shane Lechler thinks the Texans can win a Super Bowl. If he truly believes that, he will re-sign here, and I do not think Shane Lechler is a liar! 

BRANDON BROOKS, Guard 
2015 Cap: $1,696,359
ODDS — Return: -110 Depart: -110
Comment:
If Brooks gets to free agency on March 9, I think he might be gone. These odds have the possibility of the Texans getting a deal done with Brooks before then baked into the numbers. 

BEN JONES, Center 
2015 Cap: $1,662,362
ODDS — Return: -200 Depart: +160
Comment:
If you gave me the choice of overpaying Brandon Brooks or bringing back Ben Jones on a reasonable, long-term deal, I'd take Jones on the reasonable long-term deal, especially with the grooming of a new quarterback imminent. 

JARED CRICK, Defensive End 
2015 Cap: $1,639,875
ODDS — Return: -110 Depart: -110
Comment:
The Texans need to upgrade the defensive end opposite J.J. Watt. That doesn't mean Crick can't come back; it just means he can't come back for considerably more than he was making on his fourth round rookie deal, that's all. Crick as a backup is fine. 

CHRIS CLARK, Offensive Tackle 
2015 Cap: $1,400,000
ODDS — Return: -110 Depart: -110
Comment:
This was an underrated pick-up by Rick Smith before the season, swapping a late-round pick for a swing tackle who wound up starting a few games and giving the team some solid snaps. I'd look to bring back Clark at around the same price he cost last season. 

CHRIS POLK, Running Back 
2015 Cap: $747,500
ODDS — Return: +120 Depart: -150
Comment:
 The only thing keeping "Depart" from becoming a more overwhelming favorite is the scene from Hard Knocks where O'Brien (possibly wearing no pants) is watching film of Polk and reacting as if he's watching the YouTube of Earl Campbell running out of his jersey. 

NATE WASHINGTON, Wide Receiver 
2015 Cap: $615,000
ODDS — Return: +200 Depart: -300
Comment:
 I can't deal with Washington being one of the top three receivers on this team for another year. I can't. I won't.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.  


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