Sean Pendergast

Overview of Houston Texans Players Signed for 2022 and Beyond

Brandin Cooks (13) charges downfield after making a catch.
Brandin Cooks (13) charges downfield after making a catch. Photo by Eric Sauseda
No NFL team was set up for more player turnover after the 2021 season than the Houston Texans. With just 11 remaining players from their 2019, 2020, and 2021 drafts, and with a few dozen veterans on one year deals for 2021, you will definitely need a program once again at games this season, if indeed you are part of the loyal fan base still going to games.

So, as the Texans' offseason gets underway this week, with free agency set to begin in a few weeks, and the draft coming up in late April, it's probably a good idea to so a level set on exactly which players are still Houston Texans, at least contractually, for the 2022 season. Here is a position by position overview of which players are under contract for next season, with their 2022 salary cap hits and the year through which they are signed in parentheses:

QB:
Deshaun Watson ($40.4 million, through 2025)
Davis Mills ($1,186,633, through 2024)

In a perfect world, Watson will no longer be on the books in 2022. Well, actually, in a perfect world, Watson is perfectly happy as a Texan and doesn't get accused of sexual misconduct by 22 women in lawsuit form. You get my drift, though. The hope for the Texans is that Watson is traded before the draft, and the Texans would bring in a veteran free agent and possibly draft a QB in the later round to round out the depth chart.

RB:
Scottie Phillips ($895,000, through 2022)
Rex Burkhead ($2,085,294, through 2022)

No position will undergo more of a facelift than running back. Expect David Johnson to finally be gone, we hope, and expect the lead running back in 2022 to be a rookie drafted in the second or third round of the draft.

WR:
Brandin Cooks ($16,235,294, through 2022)
Nico Collins ($1,107,163, through 2024)
Phillip Dorsett ($1,135,000, through 2022)

Cooks is actually a candidate for an extension that takes him into his early 30's. he is well liked by GM Nick Caserio and EVP Jack Easterby. Nico Collins is one of a handful of players on rookie deals, and should take a step forward in his second year. Dorsett was doing some decent things after arriving as a street free agent, before getting injured late in the season.

TE:
Brevin Jordan ($913,046, through 2024)
This position is a prime spot to be filled with some moderately priced veteran free agents (Dalton Schultze, anyone? Mike Gesicki, perhaps?) Jordan taking a big step forward in Year 2, and building on his stellar last eight weeks of the season would be a welcome development.

OL:
Laremy Tunsil ($26,153,333, through 2023)
Marcus Cannon ($6,350,000, through 2022)
Tytus Howard ($3,889,948, through 2022)
Justin McCray ($2,250,000, through 2022)
Max Scharping ($1,612,572, through 2024)
Charlie Heck ($1,072,676, through 2024)

Tunsil is a prime candidate to be traded for a first or second round draft pick. Marcus Cannon is likely to be cut for the cap savings, after playing just four games in 2021 at the age of 33. It's a big season for Howard and Scharping, who will be entering the fourth year of their rookie deals. Heck showed some things in his second year that make him intriguing. This entire group will be on their third offensive line coach in three seasons with the departure of James Campen.

DL:
Jordan Jenkins ($3,500,000, through 2022)
Ross Blacklock ($2,167,484, through 2023)
Jonathan Greenard ($1,231,495, through 2023)
Roy Lopez ($870,709, through 2024)
Ron'Dell Carter ($910,000, through 2022)

Lopez and Greenard whereto of the brightest spots on the defense in 2021, and Blacklock showed some flashes that maybe, just MAYBE, he will end up being worth the 40th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Jenkins is a body on the depth chart, and I wouldn't know Carter if he came to my house to deliver me a pizza.

LB:
Kevin Pierre-Louis ($4,000,000, through 2022)
Garret Wallow ($898,971, through 2024)
Derek Rivers ($1,200,000, through 2022)
Wallow did some nice things when given an opportunity during the weeks where the linebacking corps was decimated with COVID. Pierre-Louis was a major disappointment, missing most of the season with injuries. The lack of numbers here shows why re-signing Kamu Grugier-Hill and Christian Kirksey is such a priority.

CB:
Terrance Mitchell ($3,250,000, through 2022)
Tavierre Thomas ($2,225,000, through 2022)
Lonnie Johnson ($1,659,059, through 2022)
Tremon Smith ($1,325,000, through 2022)
Jimmy Moreland ($965,000, through 2022)
Grayland Arnold ($910,000, through 2022)
Thomas was the most pleasant surprise on the defense (not named Greenard or Lopez), as he really solidified the slot corner position. Smith became a very solid option in the return game, and signed an extension late in the year. Like Howard and Scharping, this is a huge year for Lonnie Johnson as he winds down his rookie contract in 2022.

S:
Eric Murray ($6,750,000, through 2022)
Jonathan Owens ($910,000, through 2022)

Murray is probably gone as a cap casualty, thus ridding the Texans of one of Bill O'Brien's worst decisions as general manager. Owens most recently got engaged to Simone Biles, so at the very least, we need him for the Biles-generated buzz around NRG Stadium on game day! (Also, Owens secure two turnovers in his only full game of 2021, so there's that.)

SPEC:
Ka'imi Fairbairn ($4,300,000, through 2023)
Cameron Johnston ($2,833,333, through 2023)

Like Cannon and Murray, Fairbairn could be a cap casualty, as he is paid like a top five kicker, and actually kicks like a bottom third of the league kicker. Johnston was probably Caserio's best signing of the 2021 offseason last year.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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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