Earlier this week, we did a fairly extensive breakdown on how the Texans' offensive line slowly degenerated from a competent, respectable unit to open 2014 to the Swiss cheese debacle they trotted out there in 2017. Duane Brown, Chris Myers, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, Derek Newton — those were the 2014 fixtures. The former four names on that list have all seen their Texans careers come and go, in varying fashions of departure.
On Thursday, as first reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans swept the last remnants of that 2014 group to the curb, in what some would say is the coldest way possible, releasing former right tackle Derek Newton:
The move comes around 19 months after Newton suffered a devastating injury, shredding the patellar tendons in each of his knees on the same play, while trying to block Von Miller in Denver on a Monday night:
This move by the Texans comes as a bit of a surprise, given Bill O'Brien's effusive praise for Newton's tireless rehab work over the last several months, efforts for which Newton was named the Texans recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award for 2017. Here are a couple cuts from O'Brien (and some of Newton's teammates) in December discussing how impressed they were with Newton:
O'Brien's positive reviews of Newton even extended into the owners' meetings a couple weeks ago, where again he praised Newton's work ethic, while cautioning that he might not be ready for training camp. According to Wilson, though, Newton had been given clearance by Dr. James Andrews to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, which starts next week.
In response to the team's decision, Newton has field a grievance seeking a $500,000 roster bonus he was to receive if he was on the team on April 1, 2018. Wilson outlined the details on Twitter:
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So while the Texans' public messages regarding Newton were somewhat mixed, and while legally there is some murkiness over the money he is owed, the one thing that is clear is that Derek Newton will no longer be a Houston Texan. Thus, his name can be removed from the potential solutions along an offensive line still full of question marks.
Reportedly, Newton was informed today of the team's decision as he arrived for yet another grueling rehab session. That's the cold part of the business. The flip side here is that Newton did draw a couple million dollars in salary in 2017 to rehab his injuries, in a sport where plenty with lesser damage have been sent to the scrap heap with no money at all, or a small injury settlement. Certainly, the Texans did that solid for Newton somewhat selfishly, playing the odds he might come back and settle in as a productive player once again. He didn't. We move on.
So now, if Newton does come back, it won't be as a Texan. However, in a league that still annually employs the likes of Breno Giacomini on offensive lines, if Newton CAN play, he will get a shot somewhere. With their release of Newton, the Texans are clearly suggesting that they don't see a comeback happening.
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