Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Houston Texans Final Cuts Down To 53 Players

There was some celebrating going on with some bubble players yesterday, as the Texans cut their roster down to 53 players.
There was some celebrating going on with some bubble players yesterday, as the Texans cut their roster down to 53 players. Photo by Jack Gorman
Nick Caserio's first training camp as Houston Texans general manager is in the books, ending, for all intents and purposes, on Tuesday afternoon with the final trimming of the roster from 80 players down to the requisite count of 53 players.

I think it's safe to say that Caserio never experienced a training camp quite like this one during his two decades in New England working for Bill Belichick, and the hope here is that he never experiences one like this again during his time in Houston. While bringing in 50 new faces, most of them veterans on one year contracts, resulted in great competition in camp, having the oldest roster in the league is not a formula for long-term success.

So here we go, here are the Texans' final cuts:
Now, a few observations:

Deshaun Watson is going to occupy a spot on the 53-man roster (for now)
Once it became evident that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was not going to park Watson on the Commissioner's Exempt list, where Watson would be allowed to stay away from the team and still get paid while the league determined a punishment (if any) for him, then the only question was whether or not Watson would be traded.

It's become quite clear that Caserio will not trade Watson until (a) his value is back to what it was before the lawsuits began flying, and (b) until teams will no longer be asking for conditions to be attached to the picks, based on whether or not Watson is suspended. So, for now, Watson occupies a spot on the 53-man roster, and reportedly he will be labeled as "INACTIVE" on game days for the team. This guarantees us several more months of David Culley's awkwardly dodging questions about Watson's status, which by, say, Week 7, might be the most entertaining part of the upcoming season.
I wouldn't get too comfortable if I'm a backup on this team
There will be 53 names on the Texans' roster this morning, and all 53 of the men on the roster will be proud and happy that they live to fight another day in the NFL. However, if we know one thing about Nick Caserio, it's that he will be constantly churning this roster, all season long. Because they were 4-12 in 2020, the Texans are third in the waiver pickup priority order for the next several weeks, so they will be in near pole position to have their pick of the litter among players subject to the waiver cycle when they're cut. Also, Caserio has shown he is not fearful at all to make small trades on the margins of the roster. I would tell anybody who's a backup on this team to not only not buy a home. I would even advise against renting an apartment, and just go night to night at a hotel. That's the responsible thing to do.

The most noteworthy roster storylines were...
I think most of us were anxious to see how the running back room would shake out, with four veterans under one year deals and the best back in the preseason being second year back Scottie Phillips. Who would be the odd man out? The answer — nobody. They wound up keeping all five. I'd be shocked if one or more of the veteran backs weren't traded for a late round draft pick. Here's hoping Phillips gets a shot at contributing in the regular season. The biggest name among the cuts was probably slot receiver Keke Coutee, who spent most of his first three seasons in Bill O'Brien's doghouse. At his peak, Coutee was an intriguing weapon, with two 11 catch games during his rookie season in 2018. At his worst, he was either frustratingly injured or struggling with ball security and playbook knowledge.

One last thing... OMG, Kahale Warring!
Ten days ago, the Texans' 2019 third round pick, tight end Kahale Warring, was a Houston Texan, having played a grand total of four snaps against the Dallas Cowboys on August 21. The next day, he was waived. Two days later, the Patriots claimed him off waivers. If anybody could find a use for Warring, it'd be Bill Belichick, right? Well, three days later, the Patriots waived Warring. The next day, the Colts picked him up off waivers. Hey, Colts GM Chris Ballard is a great talent evaluator, right? He must see something in him! Well....
Kahale Warring was waived by three teams in nine days, which is far more remarkable than the three catches he had over two seasons as a Texan. Total fail.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast