Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Houston Texans Releasing Center Justin Britt

Justin Britt (68) is now a former Texan, after getting released on Friday.
Justin Britt (68) is now a former Texan, after getting released on Friday. Photo by Jack Gorman
Back in September, the Houston Texans placed center Justin Britt on the Reserve/Non Football Illness list for "personal reasons." Texans head coach Lovie Smith, appropriately, would not disclose why Britt left the team, when he made the announcement back on September 21 of last year:
After this, Britt essentially disappeared from Texans fans' collective radar, his absence becoming a complete afterthought in a lost 3-13-1 season. He never played another snap for the team all season.

Heading into the offseason, Britt was still under contract for 2023, but that ended on Friday, as the Texans
terminated the contract of their now former center. Britt, 31, had signed a two-year, $9 million contract last offseason, after a first season with the team in 2021 that saw him play in 11 games, despite continued nagging knee problems that actually forced him to miss an entire season in 2020.

In 2022, after struggling through the preseason., Britt played in the season opening tie with the Colts, but that was it, leaving the team with Scott Quessenberry as its starting center for the remainder of 2022. Here are four thoughts on Britt, and the center position in general for the Texans:

i guess we will never find out what the "personal reasons" were
The strange thing about Britt's leaving was, in the press conference following the announcement of his heading to the NFI list. Lovie Smith promised the media more information on Britt's status in the very near future from that date. Well, that never happened, so we will likely never know exactly what "personal reasons" was code for. What I will say about the brief interactions we had with Britt in media sessions is that he was always a very thoughtful player, and you do wonder if enduring a three year period that included an entire missed season and then a ton of losing with the Texans, if he struggled with an "Okay, what am I doing here exactly?" mindset. I wish him well.

Justin Britt was the perfect "soft tank" player
That said, Britt was emblematic of the style of player that GM Nick Caserio has brought in under free agency the last two years — largely washed up or damaged veteran players on short term, highly ejectable contracts. Also, with the knowledge that losing games wasn't the worst thing in the world, given how draft position is determined, the fact that Britt was not very good at football anymore was quasi-acceptable. HIs leadership seemed to be something the team really liked, although just leaving the team altogether does raise some questions about that aspect of the Justin Britt Experience.

This move does open up some cap space
Now, for the good news! Terminating Britt's contract does open up some space under the salary cap for the Texans. $3 million, to be exact! So the Texans, who already have among the highest amounts of cap space to go spend in free agency next week, will have a few million more. Hey, maybe they can go spend some of that money on....

The Texans need a center BADLY
.... A CENTER! One who can actually PLAY, and be PRODUCTIVE, and who has WORKING KNEES! Seriously, aside from quarterback, you could argue that a solid veteran center is the most important need for the Houston Texans, and that's something, because this is a team with a LOT of needs. A veteran center, aside from providing a steadying influence on the offensive line, would be a real key to a young quarterback's development (and survival), as well as a giving second year left guard Kenyon Green a solid player to his right, who can aid in his development after a very shaky rookie year.

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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