Today we take a look at which players could be subject to release when the new league year starts in March. Fortunately this will be a short article as the team does not have very many candidates for release this early in the offseason. Currently the team has 61 players under contract. The team will likely add another 7 or 8 players through the upcoming draft in 2018, another 15-17 undrafted rookies, and 4 or 5 free agent acquisitions to get to the 90 man roster number heading into training camp.
The Texans are sitting on approximately $57 million in available cap dollars for the 2018 league year, with very small amount of guaranteed salary set in escrow for the season. The team is in a position where player releases are not needed to create cap space for the upcoming season.
There is only one player on the 2018 roster that doesn’t appear to be in the future plans of the organization, inside linebacker Brian Cushing. Cushing is coming off of another PED suspension missing 10 games during the 2017 season. The inside linebacker position appears to be set for the foreseeable future with Bernardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham, and Dylan Cole. Cushing is also set to earn $8.5 million in cash for the 2018 season between salary and roster bonuses. Releasing Cushing provides the team with a new cap savings of approximately $7.16 million up front. If the Texans do opt to release Cushing from his player contract this will likely happen a couple of days prior to the start of the league year on March 14th. Releasing Cushing would push the Texans cap space up over $64 million.
There are many fans that have called for Jeff Allen to be released. At this point in the offseason that would be a mistake and here is why. Allen has zero guaranteed cash remaining on his 4 year contract, and Allen only accounts for 4% of cap spending. The team still has work to do to rebuild the offensive line. The team should keep Allen through the free agency period, draft, and into training camp to compete. The team could sign a free agent or two and make Allen expendable but the cap savings is the same if you release him in March or in August. And given the ample cap space that team is set with there is no reason to release Allen this early in the process. If the team decides to release Allen during the cut down to the 53 man roster, then the cap savings alone will cover most of the projected injured reserve replacement spending.
Ryan Griffin is in the same situation. No guaranteed cash but at a position that needs improvement in the personnel group. Griffin is another player that should be kept on the roster through training camp. The team could sign or draft another tight end to ultimately replace Griffin and that decision would not come until August or early September.
The Texans are in a good cap position allowing the team to sign other players without having to release other players to free up the cap dollars to pay for the new players. Now the team can spend, evaluate both players, and then make an informed decision on who stays and who goes after training camp.