The dreadful 2017 regular season for the Houston Texans has finally come to an end. A season filled with high hopes followed with an injured reserve list that would rival most starting team rosters. The future for 2018 and beyond does look bright as the team appears to have their franchise quarterback in place. The Texans will be signing some, if not all, of their practice squad roster to Future’s Contracts this week to start the 2018 offseason.
The 2018 offseason will be difficult task for the organization to navigate. The surprising news of Rick Smith stepping away from the team to take care of his family will really shake up things. With Bill O’Brien staying for the 2018 season it will be interesting to see whom the organization brings in to replace Smith. Personally I feel that Jimmy Raye will be a temporary post holder until the new person arrives. I also wonder how much input Bill O’Brien has on the next General Manager. There are plenty of good names out there that the Texans could pursue. Referencing Dan Hatman’s article on Inside The Pylon and based on my personal preference here a few names I would like to see the team pursue: Eliot Wolf (Green Bay), Nick Caserio (New England), and George Patton (Minnesota). Eric DeCosta is a popular name but I don’t think he will leave Baltimore since he is heir apparent for when Ozzie Newsome retires. Eliot Wolf, son of the great Ron Wolf, has the pedigree to be a successful general manager…and the Ron Wolf tree speaks for itself. If you are not familiar with folks that came up through the Ron Wolf tree here are some names: Reggie McKenzie (Oakland GM), John Schneider (Seattle GM), Ted Thompson (Green Bay GM), John Dorsey (former Kansas City GM and new New York Giants GM), and former GM Scot McCloughan. That is an outstanding group of personnel folks running some of the best organizations in the league. If Eliot Wolf is not an option then New England Director of Player Personnel (and Bill Belichick’s right hand man) should be looked at. Given Bill O’Brien background coming from New England and having a roster with similar needs New England; Caserio would be an excellent choice. Caserio is very picky and it needs to be the perfect position for him to leave New England. On the opposite end of the spectrum I would be disappointed if the Texans brought back Brian Gaine.
There are question marks on the offensive line, in the defensive backfield, and who will back-up Deshaun Watson. The team will need to replace a large number of snaps from the 2017 season through free agency and the draft. JaDaveon Clowney & Bernardrick McKinney will be targets for top tier contract extensions. And ultimately finding a way to move up in the 2018 draft to find their next star. However with a new GM, the roster composition could have a serious make over for 2018.
The expectation is for the Texans to be active in free agency this year as the team will be sitting on approximately $50 million in cap dollars when the league year starts in March. The team could look to sign a big name offensive guard, cornerback, or safety…possibly 2 or 3 mid to upper tier free agents. Free agency is difficult to assess for a couple of reasons: 1. the team is having to overpay for a player that another team (likely) didn’t want to retain and 2. the team has a limited window (2 days) to speak to player agents on a potential contract without being able to speak to the player directly. Compare this to the draft where the team will have multiple conversations with a prospect before drafting them.
As you read this the Texans front office is evaluating the other 31 team rosters to determine who could be released, identifying unrestricted free agents as potential targets for contract, determining the tender value on the upcoming restricted free agents and if other teams could attempt to sign them away, as well as evaluating their own roster to determine which players need to stay and which players need to be released from their contract. The pro-personnel group is pouring over All-22 game tape trying to identify that hidden gem that could be available either through free agency or a trade. This just covers the pro personnel side. The college scouting side has been in full swing all season long.
This offseason TexansCap.com will bring you a series of articles covering the upcoming offseason. The articles will cover the state of the 2018 salary cap situation, an evaluation of the current roster, which tenders the team could use on restricted players, which of the team’s unrestricted free agents could be re-signed, and prospective outside free agents, by position, that the team could look at signing. Contract projections will be put together for two of the team’s biggest defensive stars in JaDaveon Clowney & Bernardrick McKinney.
Key Dates This Offseason:
January 1, 2018: Earliest possible time the team can extend rookie contracts from the 2015 draft, or undrafted players with two years on contract service. The period starts for the team to activate the 5th year contract option on Kevin Johnson.
February 5, 2018: Waiver system begins for 2018.
February 20, 2018: First day the team can designate a Franchise or Transition tag player.
February 27 – March 5, 2018: NFL Combine happens. A lot of “business” between general managers and player agents happen this during week.
March 6, 2018: Deadline to to designate a Franchise or Transition tag player.
March 12 – March 14, 2018: The NFL legal tampering period occurs for unrestricted free agents.
March 14, 2018: At 3 PM CST the league year will begin. Free agency begins at this time, trading window begins, and all 2017 player contracts expire. All restricted player tenders must be submitted, and Top 51 salary cap accounting begins the team must be in compliance.
Be sure to check back through the offseason for the latest updates on the Houston Texans 2018 offseason.