It was probably going to happen even without a broken window punched out in a Nashville hotel, but the Houston Texans decided on Friday to move on from tight end Ryan Griffin. Even before his arrest on the second night of the draft in Nashville last month, the Texans had been making moves the last two seasons that foreshadowed this day — drafting not one, but two tight ends in 2018, signing free agent Darren Fells earlier this spring, and finally, in the straw that may have broken the hotel window, the drafting of TE Kahale Warring in the third round a few weeks ago.
Source: the Texans have released veteran TE Ryan Griffin, who was arrested last month in Nashville after allegedly punching a hotel window.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 17, 2019
I liked Griffin the person a lot, always a cordial and thoughtful interview, but Griffin the player was certainly a replaceable and upgradeable commodity, and it's good to see general manager Brian Gaine recognizing that, and making the Texans a better football team. Let's take a few minutes and examine how we got here, and where both Griffin and the Texans go from here.
Sadly, Griffin will be remembered more for The Punch than anything else
I feel comfortable saying that, based on his production, Griffin probably lasted longer than his statistics and improvement (or lack thereof) in blocking indicate he should have. In the end, Griffin played in 77 games as a Texan, catching 136 passes for 1,491 yards and 7 touchdowns, and made over $8 million in career earnings. HIs blocking exploits were routinely a source of angst among Texan fans who followed film breakdown accounts on Twitter. Ultimately, when Griffin's name is brought up years from now, people will probably remember the embarrassing incident in Nashville more than anything that happened in between the lines. Given the timing of the Texans' selecting Warring (around 9:45 p.m. on Friday, according to tweets) and the timing of Griffin's arrest (around two hours later), it's fair to wonder if the Texans' using a third round pick on a tight end for the third time in Griffin's career (C.J. Fiedorowicz in 2014, Jordan Akins in 2018, Warring in 2019), combined with alcohol, was a toxic mix.
Where to now, Ryan?
Griffin is 29 years old, so despite some concussion issues over the last couple years, I think it's safe to assume that he wants to keep playing football, and truth be told, he probably deserves a shot in somebody's camp. If I were handicapping the teams that would be in on Griffin, here would be my top three:
DETROIT LIONS +250
They were the other team in on Griffin when he hit free agency two seasons ago, before he re-signed with the Texans. Bob Quinn, the Lions' GM, and Matt Patricia, the Lions' head coach, are both off of the same New England tree that seems to be in on any sort of Texan/Patriot related swap meet. Hell, they signed Tom Savage!
MINNESOTA VIKINGS +350
Gary Kubiak drafted Griffin in 2013, and he is now an offensive adviser in Minnesota. They are trying to get less expensive at the tight end position, so they've been shopping Kyle Rudolph. They drafted Irv Smith, Jr. in the second round, but could see Griffin as a cheap (and admittedly less talented) alternative on the depth chart to Rudolph.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS +400
This is where released Texans go to die (and win rings) — Brian Hoyer, Stephen Anderson, John Simon, and more. Griffin is from New Hampshire and played at Connecticut, so why not the Pats?
The list of "Kubiak Era guys" dwindles by one more
Speaking of Gary Kubiak Era refugees, the number dwindles by one with the release of Griffin. So we are now down to long snapper Jon Weeks (signed in 2010), defensive end J.J. Watt (drafted in 2011), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (signed in 2011), linebacker Whitney Mercilus (drafted in 2012), and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (drafted in 2013) as the only Kubiak Era players remaining. By the way, if I'm handicapping who will be the last Kubiak Era player standing, it looks like this:
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Jon Weeks will never die!
What does the Texans' tight end position look like in 2019?
Even with Griffin's release, it still has the appearance of a crowded tight end room over at NRG Stadium, with last year's two rookies (Akins, Jordan Thomas), Fells, and Warring. It's hard to find one of those four who are profile as a potential cut in camp, unless Fells' blocking (his reputed superhero power) isn't up to snuff. Warring is making the team and may wind up starting if you believe the hype. Akins and Thomas did enough as rookies to warrant enthusiasm, and I think Fells is part of the plan to help out rookie left tackle Tytus Howard during his burn-in period. I think they will keep all four and go light at another position, possible wide receiver, where you can rationalize the talents of Warring and Akins in the passing game making sort of a half-WR.