The Houston Texans are quickly finding out how easy it is to go from the hunter to the hunted.
In a move that surprised no one that pays attention to a little thing called the salary cap, they have lost star defensive end/outside linebacker Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills in free agency. A rumored six year deal costing $100 million with half of it guaranteed. Houston had no chance at matching such an offer with their cap issues and several key pieces up this year and next.
If you think back to a week ago, there was still much optimism in Houston. Fans were talking about having the division locked up for the next four or five years and maybe even making a Super Bowl run. With the signing of a long term deal with superstar running back Arian Foster, the rainbows and puppy dogs were even greater.
However, earlier this week, it was announced to great shock that stud right tackle Eric Winston would be released as a cap casualty. For an offensive line that was considered by a large majority as possibly the best in the NFL, this was hard to fathom. But it made fans and journalists alike think one of two things; either they’re clearing space to make one final push for Mario or their cap issues are far more concerning than originally thought.
Here we are, three days into free agency, and the only moves the team has made is to waive fullback Lawrence Vickers and Winston, while losing Mario Williams to free agency. The more concerning fact is that two more cogs in that dominant offensive line, center Chris Myers and guard Mike Brisiel, both have visits lined up today with other teams. As does tight end Joel Dreessen.
Many theories are that the team had an offer on the table for Mario that would have been significantly less than what Buffalo ultimately offered and they were waiting for him to make his decision before they made theirs. While, again, others are saying that the Texans cap situation is much, much worse than most had predicted.
The front office in Houston has never been faced anything like this before, but this is the problem that good teams have. When you move into the national spotlight, other teams want your players and you just can’t find a way to pay all of them. But losing 60% of your starting offensive line is playing with fire, especially when pro bowl left tackle Duane Brown is up after next season.
If the Texans do indeed lose that much of their offensive line, struggle with injuries as much as last year and once again have to face Peyton Manning twice a year (given he signs with the Titans), that stranglehold on the division doesn’t look quite as certain as it did on Monday. They will need to continue to have solid draft picks and be smart with their extensions for Brown, Barwin and Schaub, if that’s the route they intend to go.
Filed under: AFC South