Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine is well-positioned to bid competitively for top free agents with Houston Texans Salary Cap.
Chris Olsen minding the books, the Texans have created $65.723 million in salary-cap space under the projected salary-cap limit of $177.2 million. That includes their recent one-year, $2 million contract for veteran punter Shane Lechler and creating $7.64 million in cap space when they cut former Pro Bowl inside linebacker Brian Cushing.
There’s already plenty of buzz surrounding the Texans in NFL circles. Consider the Texans open for business and ready to be a serious player. The legal tampering period starts Monday.
“I’m expecting Brian Gaine as a new GM and the Texans to be extremely competitive for top free agents,” an NFL executive told The Chronicle. “Now that doesn’t mean they’re going to overpay or set the market for every single thing they need. I think they’ll be selective in who and what they’ll pay, but I do expect them to get involved and not sit on their hands. They have some holes and they need to improve their offensive line and their secondary. The good news for them is they have cap room and they have their quarterback. That’s a good place to start.”
The top 10 Houston Texans Salary Cap figures for 2018 are defensive end J.J. Watt ($15 million), wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins ($14 million), outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney ($13.846 million), cornerback Kareem Jackson ($9 million), offensive guard Jeff Allen ($7.375 million), running back Lamar Miller ($6.75 million), outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus ($5.956 million), tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz ($5.165 million), who’s contemplating retirement, safety Andre Hal ($3.75 million) and injured offensive tackle Derek Newton ($3.5 million).
The Texans rank sixth in the NFL in salary-cap space. Only the New York Jets ($92.083 million), Cleveland Browns ($76.353 million), Indianapolis Colts ($73.878 million), Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($73.095 million) and San Francisco 49ers ($70.06 million) have more cap room prior to a round of deals and trades late Friday afternoon.
“The Houston Texans salary cap situation is strong,” said Joel Corry, a former NFL agent who writes about the business of football for CBS Sports. “Yes, I expect them to be major players in free agency. Everything starts in the trenches in free agency.”
How might the Texans spend their small fortune?
The best bet is they’ll explore the possibilities of landing the only true left tackle available is New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder. Carolina Panthers offensive guard Andrew Norwell is expected to become the highest-paid interior offensive lineman in the game and could wind up being too expensive for the Texans’ budget.
How rich will a Norwell deal get?
The expectation is the former undrafted free agent from Ohio State will make more than $12 million per year annually.
As for Solder, the absence of left tackles and the fact the Texans don’t have a viable one since trading Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks following a contract holdout means they may need to bid high on the former Colorado standout.
In addition to needs at cornerback, the Texans don’t have a strong situation at safety, either. They signed Andre Hal to a three-year, $15 million contract extension before last season, but he didn’t have a great season as a tackler or in pass coverage. Marcus Gilchrist, the other starting safety, was just average and is an unrestricted free agent.
Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas, a native of Aldine, is expected to have interest in playing for his hometown team and Gaine helped bring him to Miami. Thomas excels on special teams and is regarded as a high-character individual with plus intangibles who’s active in the community. Another safety definitely interested in joining the Texans is New Orleans Saints free agent and former University of Texas star Kenny Vaccaro.
49ers free safety Eric Reid is clearly the top player available at this position. Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett is a good player, but is older and has had durability issues.
Texans cut linebacker Brian Cushing Texans cut linebacker Brian Cushing As Texans look to future, can they afford to pay both J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney?
Chargers safety Tre Boston is intriguing to several NFL teams and expected to have a strong list of suitors. He recently hired Drew Rosenhaus as his new agent.
The Texans’ offseason agenda includes retaining and rewarding homegrown players.
The Clowney factor
That means a potential blockbuster contract extension for Clowney and a big deal for standout inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney.
“The question is when do they extend Clowney,” Corry said. “If I’m Clowney, I’m not in a hurry. There might be a new way of doing business now that (former general manager on leave of absence and not expected to return) Rick Smith is out. I can’t see Clowney getting more than (Oakland Raiders pass rusher) Khalil Mack. So, Clowney may have incentive to be patient.”
It’s going to be a busy time for the Houston Texans Salary Cap next week, especially during the first few days of free agency.
“The first wave of free agency is when there’s blatant overspending,” Corry said. “There are good bargains to be had in the second and third phase of free agency. The Texans, by definition, are expected to be a player in this type of market. The pendulum will swing back toward the teams after the first few days and things calm down for everyone and the dust settles.”
Houston Texans Salary Cap