This Houston agreement, which NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport indicates is worth $3.2MM and could max out at $5MM (Twitter link), marks a rebound chance and a potential buy-low player for a Texans team in transition at center.
Britt made multiple visits during the 2020 campaign but did not land a gig. The Seahawks cut him shortly after the draft last year, and that move came after he tore an ACL in October 2019.
The Texans released longtime center Nick Martin last week. Prior to missing the past 1 1/2 seasons, Britt was a full-time Seahawks starter. He spent the 2016-18 seasons as Seattle’s center, not missing a game, and has also enjoyed full seasons at guard and tackle.
A former second-round pick, Britt will turn 30 ahead of Week 1. He visited the Seahawks before the start of last season and made a trip to Kansas City to meet with Chiefs brass during the team’s playoff run. With neither producing a contract, Britt is set to join a Texans team potentially readying for a rebuild. Whether he will make any snaps to Deshaun Watson remains uncertain.
Deshaun Watson isn’t playing around, according to pal Jalen Ramsey. In an interview with the Huddle & Flow podcast (Twitter link), the Rams cornerback said there’s no real chance for reconciliation between the quarterback and the Texans.
“I highly doubt [Deshaun Watson] will suit up in a Texans’ uniform again,” Ramsey said. “He’s extremely serious.”
It’s worth noting that Ramsey and Watson are both represented by David Mulugheta, so Ramsey has more insight than most on the situation. Ramsey also knows a thing or two about forcing his way out of a toxic situation. The former face of the Jaguars ultimately got the trade he wanted, and he seems to think that Watson will also get his wish.
Watson is just one of eight known NFL players to hold a no-trade clause, which gives him extra leverage. So far, the Texans have not budged on their position. That hasn’t stopped other clubs from calling, including the Panthers, Broncos, and Dolphins. The Jets and 49ers have also been heavily linked to the star QB. According to a recent PFR poll, only ~14% of you believe that he’ll wind up staying with the Texans.
Despite Houston hiring a new GM, it will retain its starting running back. David Johnson will remain with the Texans for the 2021 season, agreeing to a new one-year deal on Tuesday.
Johnson’s new contract will lower his cap number, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting the six-year veteran will receive $4.25MM fully guaranteed and could earn up to $6MM in 2021 (Twitter link). This comes shortly after a report indicated the Texans were interested in retaining Johnson at a reduced rate.
The 29-year-old back was due $7.95MM in base salary next season, but just $2.1MM of that was guaranteed. In exchange for reducing his salary, Johnson will double his guaranteed money. The former Cardinals third-round pick remains signed through the 2021 season.
This will allow Johnson to avoid what could be a grim free agency market for non-big-ticket veterans. Previous Texans GM Bill O’Brien made Johnson the centerpiece of the widely panned DeAndre Hopkins trade, which included the running back and a second-round pick coming back to Houston for the All-Pro receiver. While Johnson was an All-Pro in 2016, he has not maintained that form. However, Johnson did surpass 1,000 scrimmage yards in just 12 games in his debut Texans season.
The Texans adding a back would make sense, with the team having releasedDuke Johnson last week. But David Johnson will factor into Houston’s backfield equation in the new Texans regime’s first season.
The Texans will move on from Josh McCown as a player, with Field Yates of ESPN.com tweeting the team released the backup quarterback Monday. However, this move appears likely to precede a coaching career.
Long expected to one day move into coaching, McCown served as a de facto assistant for the Eagles last year. Philadelphia added the then-40-year-old passer to its practice squad but, ahead of the league’s initial COVID-19-altered season, used him in a remote capacity. McCown was living in Texas while on the Eagles’ practice squad. The Texans poached McCown in November.
McCown did not see any action with the Texans last season and has not started a game since doing so in relief of Sam Darnold in three games with the 2018 Jets. But he did play the bulk of the 2019 Eagles’ wild-card loss to the Seahawks, after Carson Wentz‘s early-game injury.
A 2002 draftee, the 41-year-old QB has been with 12 teams — the Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Dolphins, Panthers, 49ers, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns, Jets, Eagles and Texans — in his near-two-decade NFL run. McCown’s Bears stay, which included a productive 2013 stretch filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, reignited his career and led to multiple additional starting opportunities. The Texans may not let him get to a 13th NFL team to start his coaching career, but it is not yet certain where that run will begin.
It’s fairly common for disgruntled NFL players to give their teams a short list of acceptable trade destinations. However, it’s still quite rare for players to hold contractual veto power over a trade. Currently, there are only nine NFL players with a no-trade clause in their deals, as ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets:
The Chiefs, who represent 25% of the list, furnished LDT with a NTC as a part of his contract restructure. Historically, there haven’t been many offensive lineman to secure the clause. However, Duvernay-Tardif had a bit of leverage in 2020 when the Chiefs needed extra cap room. He was scheduled to count for nearly $9MM, $6.45MM of which was comprised of base salary. Instead, he converted some of that money into a signing bonus over the remaining three years and came away with a perk typically reserved for quarterbacks.
New Texans GM Nick Caserio is dug in against the prospect of trading Watson, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King. With the Texans not viewing free agency as a deadline to make a deal, a resolution does not appear imminent. With teams pursuing Watson potentially moving to other options in the near future, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the days leading up to the new league year.
Thus far, the Texans have not budged. Caserio and Cal McNair have issued multiple statements indicating they want Watson back under center in Houston next season. In holding Watson’s rights, the Texans certainly have leverage. Trading Watson later in the offseason may affect his assimilation with his next team and affect that team’s 2021 roster plan, though that might be a small factor here. And Watson could be fined more than $20MM this year if he is truly committed to never playing for the Texans again, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
By waiting until after the draft, the Texans would put themselves in danger of downgrading significantly at quarterback and doing so without collecting the kind of trade package that would help kickstart a rebuild. Thanks to their Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade, the Texans are without 2021 first- and second-round picks. And they may be set to let Will Fuller walk; prior to his trade request, Watson wanted the Texans to retain Fuller. While they would stand to recoup these and much more were they to unload Watson, he remains a Texan for the time being. Where will he be when the season starts?
Although the Texans might not even view the draft as a loose deadline to trade their three-time Pro Bowl passer, the Jets and Dolphins’ draft arsenals would be enticing. Both pick in the top three this year — the Jets at No. 2, the Dolphins third — and hold extra Round 1 picks (the Dolphins at No. 18, the Jets at 23). The Dolphins also have two second-round picks this year, while the Jets have two 2022 first-rounders from the Jamal Adams trade. Watson is believed to be a Robert Saleh fan, but subsequent reports have emerged indicating he would favor a deal to Miami over New York.
The Dolphins and Jets have QBs they could send to Houston, in Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold, and these incumbent options would hold more appeal compared to the passers the Broncos and Panthers could send over. However, Watson has a no-trade clause, and both Carolina and Denver outflank the two AFC East squads at the skill positions.
It is not known how aggressive the 49ers will be, but they did discuss Stafford with the Lions. No offer emerged, however. They have made statements indicating they are fine with Jimmy Garoppolo returning, but Stafford discussions certainly point to San Francisco being interested in a Watson swap. The 49ers’ plan, as of late February, would be either making a Watson-level splash or trot out Garoppolo again. While the Broncos are on Watson’s list of approved destinations, the 49ers may well be ahead of them on said list.
Who are the key dark-horse teams to monitor here? The Raiders have been mentioned as a potential suitor. Of course, they have since been named one of Russell Wilson‘s four acceptable destinations. How much should Watson fetch in a trade? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
However, the Texans still want to reduce their starter’s cap number, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. Entering the final season of his Cardinals-constructed contract, Johnson is set to count $8.5MM against the Texans’ 2021 cap. That number is sixth among running backs.
The Texans made David Johnson the centerpiece of a trade most observers immediately criticized, when they acquired him in a deal that sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cards. But Nick Caserio obviously was not involved in that controversial swap. The new GM has already cut several starters or key contributions — including Duke Johnson, Nick Martin and J.J. Watt — so seeing the Texans attempt to save $6MM-plus by cutting David Johnson would be especially surprising.
In his first Texans season, David Johnson amassed 1,005 scrimmage yards in 12 games. Johnson, who spent time on IR because of a concussion, also upped his per-carry average from 3.7 in his final Arizona season to 4.7 in 2020. Despite entering the NFL in 2015, Johnson will turn 30 this year.
The six-year veteran has $2.1MM guaranteed left on his contract and would be interested in staying with the Texans for a second season, per Wilson. He may need to agree to a pay cut to do so, though the parties could agree to an extension that would reduce his 2021 cap figure.
The only center to start a Texans game during Deshaun Watson‘s career is now on the market. The Texans released Nick Martin on Friday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The move is now official.
A 2016 fifth-round pick, Martin missed his entire rookie season but established himself as Houston’s starting center a year later. In every game Watson played as a pro, Martin operated as his center. Martin will join Senio Kelemete as Texans O-linemen cut this week. The Texans also releasedDuke Johnson on Friday.
By releasing Martin, the Texans will save $6.25MM in cap space. The younger brother of Zack Martin, Nick was due a $7.25MM base salary in 2021 and was signed through the ’22 season. The Texans have moved up to north of $15MM in cap space.
The Texans gave Martin a three-year, $33MM extension ahead of the 2019 season. Going into Friday, that deal remained a top-five center contract. The Nick Caserio–David Culley regime will now look for a new snapper. Whether the new center will snap to Watson in 2021 is certainly another story.
Pro Football Focus has never been especially high on Martin’s work, grading him as the league’s No. 29 center last season and never slotting him higher than 17th. Martin, however, has not missed a start since the 2017 season and remains in his prime. He will turn 28 this offseason.
The Texans traded for Johnson in 2019, sending a conditional draft pick to Cleveland in exchange for the veteran tailback. With more than ten games on the active roster that year, the conditional fourth-rounder turned into a third-round pick.
All in all, Johnson rushed for 645 yards and three TDs on the ground. He also hauled in 72 catches for 659 yards by air, and four receiving TDs, showcasing the soft hands that made him a notable name in Cleveland. This past year, he wasn’t quite as efficient in the rushing game, however. His yards-per-tote average of 3.1 yards per carry didn’t move the needle much and he was hampered by injuries, including an ankle sprain. Meanwhile, new addition David Johnson managed 4.7 yards per run, plus 33 grabs for 314 yards.
Johnson (Duke, that is) won’t turn 28 until September. He shouldn’t have difficulty finding a new job, though he may have to settle for less than his previous three-year, $15.61MM deal given the current climate.
For what it’s worth, David Johnson isn’t guaranteed to stick around either. Even though he enjoyed a bounce back year, he’s set to earn nearly $8MM in base salary this year with just $2.1MM locked in. The rebuilding Texans may choose to move on from him, especially if Deshaun Watson gets his trade request fulfilled.
The J.J. Watt sweepstakes is starting to heat up. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports that the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has “received contract offers from multiple teams.” The most lucrative offer is believed to be in the $15MM to $16MM range, per Russini.
A handful of teams have continually been connected to Watt, including the Cleveland Browns. ESPN’s report notes that it’s uncertain if the Browns are one of the squads that have submitted an offer to the veteran pass rusher. Cleveland is armed with more than $30MM in cap space and was previously deemed a legitimate threat to sign Watt.
The Bills, Packers, and Titans have also been listed as potential landing spots for the 31-year-old. Each of those three teams currently remain over the cap, so they’ve got some financial hurdles to overcome before they could definitively sign Watt to a lucrative contract. The Titans already started with some cap-saving movies, including their reported release of wideout Adam Humphries from earlier today.
One team that apparently won’t be landing Watt is the Steelers. Earlier this week, veteran NFL reporter John Clayton said that Pittsburgh won’t be a landing spot for the former Texans standout.
Watt may be getting older, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t be productive in the right role. His five sacks in 2020 were his lowest total in a 16-game campaign (but a glass-half-full mentality would observe that a 16-game season is encouraging in and of itself). Plus, Watt graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 overall edge defender in 2020, with the advanced metrics site praising the veteran’s work against the run and pass.