Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Houston Texans Trading Benardrick McKinney

Benardrick McKinney has been traded to the Miami Dolphins.
Benardrick McKinney has been traded to the Miami Dolphins. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If there were two staples of the brief era in which Bill O'Brien added general manager duties to his workload they were bad deals and LOTS of activity.  Thankfully, the Texans have not gotten caught in the snafu of the former staple thus far with Nick Caserio running things, but the activity (and drama) level has certainly been running at an O'Brien-esque pace, for sure.

On Friday, the Texans added two more veterans on cheap, one-year deals, with running back Mark Ingram and inside linebacker Christian Kirksey joining the team. Then, on Sunday morning, a much bigger bombshell came down, as longtime inside linebacker and defensive leader Benardrick McKinney was traded to the Miami Dolphins:

Caserio then followed up with another deal on Sunday afternoon, for veteran tackle Marcus Cannon:

So let's get into thoughts on these deals, specifically a deeper dive on what the McKinney-for-Lawson trade could mean:

It sure is nice having a real general manager
None of these deals are foundation shakers, but here's the thing — they ALL make sense. Reasonable one year deals for aging veterans, flipping McKinney for SOMETHING rather than releasing him, getting a veteran tackle to shore up the offensive line, these are all things that savvy personnel people do, which is to say that Bill O'Brien would have been able to pull off exactly zero of these things. Either because he was spread too thin, or because he was super impatient (or both), O'Brien didn't have it in him to make these moves on the margin that are integral to the basic construction of an NFL roster, with or without a franchise quarterback. It is nice to have an adult running things. We salute you, Nick Caserio!

There are very few scraps left in the Texans' scrapbook
Once the McKinney deal is made official, and with the recent releases of J.J. Watt and Jon Weeks, here is the list of the Houston Texans with the longest tenure as a Houston Texan:

Whitney Mercilus, 2012
Deshaun Watson, 2017
Zach Cunningham, 2017
Yes, that's right, we are a trade or release of Whitney Mercilus away from Deshaun Watson being the longest tenured Houston Texan (before he then gets traded). Indeed, there are no scraps in the Nick Caserio scrapbook.

If the Texans are pulling a "Hail Mary" for Deshaun Watson, this move makes sense
Now, onto the Lawson side of the trade. Nick Caserio reiterated the team's stance on trading Watson last week on my radio show on SportsRadio 610. They still insist that Watson won't be traded. So, if indeed they feel like they can coax Watson back into the fold, and right now it's not looking promising, then acquiring Lawson is a logical, if not incredibly astute maneuver. Lawson and Watson were the faces of the Clemson football renaissance six seasons ago, and the two evidently remain very good friends, at least according to Lawson's Twitter feed on Sunday:

Indeed, Lawson tweeted out a chummy picture, and then deleted it, which probably means he got a phone call from Watson saying "Take it down, bro!"

If they are going to trade Watson, though, then perhaps the skids are getting greased
That said, all signs still point to Watson never suitng up for the Texans ever again, or if he does, it's after a lengthy holdout and with a begrudging return just to make sure he gets credit for service time in 2021. If, however, the Texans do try to trade him before this year's draft, then Miami is a logical landing spot. Watson reportedly likes the city, likes the team, and the Dolphins have the draft capital to put together a respectable offer. I'll credit my SportsRadio 610 colleague Landry Locker as being the first to make this observation. Back in 2017, the Texans dealt Brock Osweiler to the Browns in February, Two months later, they completed a trade with the Browns on draft night to move up and take Watson. Rick Smith, the Texans' GM at the time, acknowledged that the lines of communication opened by the Osweiler deal helped grease the skids for the Watson trade. Could the McKinney trade to Miami do the same for another deal involving Deshaun Watson? We will see!

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