Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Continued Houston Texans 2021 Roster Purge

NIck Martin (66, center) is now a former Houston Texan.
NIck Martin (66, center) is now a former Houston Texan. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Between Nick Caserio's and David Culley's introductory press conferences, along with J.J. Watt's release, Fridays have become the unofficial "big news" day for the Houston Texans. That's not necessarily a good thing, as many teams look to put out news they're running from on Fridays, so it disappears into the tapestry of the weekend. Nevertheless, Fridays have become the day to await Texans news.

That trend continued this past Friday, as new GM Nick Caserio continued to purge and reshape the Texans' roster. shedding bad contracts and opening up salary cap space, all with the backdrop of Deshaun Watson's continued discontent with all things Texan. Here were Friday's moves, as announced on the team's Twitter account:
OK, a few thoughts here:

What does Deshaun Watson (probably) think of these moves?
My guess is, like a lot of the Texans' moves so far this offseason, Watson is probably either (a) rolling his eyes, or (b) doesn't care, because he has checked out on ever being a Houston Texan ever again. Let's assume for a second that these moves still matter to him. Nick Martin was someone Watson had good rapport with, even if he was highly overpaid. The more head scratching news about the Texans this offseason came on Thursday when Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that the team would let Watson's favorite target, Will Fuller, walk in free agency. For a team that has publicly stated they have no intention of trading Watson, it seems like every decision has been made almost specifically to agitate their star quarterback.

The first four Texans drafts of the O'Brien Era are an abomination
With Martin now gone, and Fuller basically gone, assuming he does leave in free agency, the Texans are now a Deshaun Watson trade and a Benardrick McKinney release (more on that in a second) away from Zach Cunningham being the only player from the first four drafts of the O'Brien Era remaining in a Texans uniform:

The Texans' drafts from 2014 through 2017 are leaving behind very few foundational players.
Screen grab from Pro Football Reference
This is roster management malpractice to an exponential degree. This might require its own post, and possibly its own "30 for 30" style documentary. What a mess.

So David Johnson outlasted Duke Johnson, huh?
Technically, yes, insomuch as David Johnson has not been cut YET. Key word, YET. Now, Wilson reported on Friday that, somewhat miraculously (if not, misguidedly), the Texans might be working to keep David Johnson around for another season:
Look, if you're already forced to pay Johnson $2.1 million to go away, then the team is probably doing the right thing by seeing if he would agree to a reduced salary close to that already guaranteed figure. That said, this sure does smell like a certain former-chaplain-turned-team-executive (read; EASTERBY) trying to make sure that Ross Blacklock isn't the only remaining "asset" left over from the lopsided DeAndre Hopkins trade.

Who's left to cut?
The cuts the Texans have made over the last couple weeks, including J.J. Watt, have opened up a decent chunk of cap space to allow the Texans to sign some fill-in free agents. They're likely still stuck with bad O'Brien Era deals like Whitney Mercilus, Randall Cobb, and Eric Murray, all of whom have fully guaranteed salaries for 2021 totaling over $20 million. Some of the easy cuts the team can make to open up space, though, are David Johnson (if they don't keep him) for about $6 million in savings, ILB Benardrick McKinney for about $7 million in savings, CB Bradley Roby for about $8 million in savings (although Roby probably has trade value), and G Zach Fulton for about $3 million in savings.

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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 the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast