One of the most frustrating things about the Texans' disastrous 2020 seasons has been that, for the first time in his five year NFL career, wide receiver Will Fuller has avoided the injury big. Not just that, but he has performed like a true No. 1 wide receiver, racking up 53 coaches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games. Health has been the key for Fuller, and that this unicorn of a healthy season for him was being wasted on a 4-7 record from the team felt like a massive opportunity missed.
Well, frustration turned to shock on Monday afternoon, as we learned exactly (possibly) WHY Fuller has managed to remain so healthy this season. From Fuller's Instagram account, he is going to be suspended by the NFL for six games for flunking a PED test:
UGH. My thoughts...
The Texans likely won't make the playoffs, but this won't help!
Hey look, I'm a realist, but I'm also someone who tries to find the bright side with my sports teams. This mini-run of three wins in four games had put some pep in my step, especially considering that the Texans will have the superior quarterback in all five of their remaining games. However, Fuller going down with this suspension is a killer, especially in the same week where the team just cut Kenny Stills for no real reason. What had been a strength of this team coming into the season — four capable veteran wide receivers in Fuller, Cooks, Cobb, and Stills — is now Cooks and... Keke Coutee? I would pick up Jordan Akins ASAP in your fantasy leagues. Someone has to get Fuller's targets.
So much for that 16 game season....
If we are putting the storyboard together for the "30 for 30" short on Will Fuller's Texans career, the injury part goes like this —
2016: 14 games played, minor bumps and bruises
2017: 10 games played, broken collarbone to start the season, broken rib, and leg injuries throughout the remainder
2018: 7 games played, soft tissue stuff, then torn ACL in Week 8 ending his season
2019: 11 games played, soft tissue injuries GALORE
2020: 11 games played, SUSPENDED for PED usage
That's tough to look at, knowing what he's meant to Deshaun Watson's productivity. This offense operates differently when Fuller is healthy.
Fuller has cost himself MILLIONS of dollars.
Fuller's 2020 season, healthy and super productive, had begun to create conversation and debate about his status as a "No. 1 receiver." With this being his contract year, Fuller was in line for either (a) a franchise tag from the Texans and a guarantee of nearly $20 million for one year, or (b) a lucrative multiyear deal from either the Texans or another team in free agency. That's out the window, presumably, now. The only question for Fuller has been health, but now the reason he's been healthy has been completely called into question with this failed test, despite Fuller's protests shifting blame to his doctors. The silver lining in all of this might be that the Texans challenge of bringing back Fuller may have gotten easier.
Texans tradition of PED usage
In the end, Fuller's season is really only ruining his own bargaining position, with the Texans likely not making the postseason anyway. However, imagine if the Texans' record was 7-4, not 4-7? Imagine the vitriol directed at Fuller then. I am reminded of Brian Cushing's two PED suspensions, a four gamer in 2010 and a ten gamer in 2017. Texan fans were livid with Cushing because the first suspension came at the beginning of a season where the Texans had playoff hopes, and the they were livid at the second one because... well,... dude... TWICE?!? It didn't help Cushing that he tried to dodge blame by saying he felt scared he might have cancer when he flunked the test. (The ingredient that triggered his positive test was found in cancer patients, too.)
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