- The Texans have claimed wide receiver Devin Street off waivers from the Jets. Houston’s already the fourth team this year for Street, who had brief stints with the Patriots and Jets after the Colts cut him in May. The three-year veteran has just 10 catches in 35 games.
For the most part, Brown’s new roster designation has minimal effect: he doesn’t count towards Houston’s 90-man roster, and he can be removed from the list at any time. However, Brown is costing himself money by not attending camp, as Field Yates of ESPN.com reports Brown has triggered a de-escalator clause in his contract by not taking part in a predetermined amount of workouts. Per Yates, Brown’s 2017 base salary has been reduced from $9.65MM to $9.4MM.
The 31-year-old Brown does hold a certain amount of leverage, however, as the Texans have extremely limited options at left tackle behind him. Chris Clark would probably step in as the starter, but he graded as a bottom-five guard in the NFL a season ago, per Pro Football Focus. Free agent signee Breno Giacomini and rookie Julien Davenport, meanwhile, are considered right tackles only.
The Texans and general manager Rick Smith don’t seem inclined to cave to Brown’s demands, however, as Smith explained to Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. “There’s no contract dispute,” Smith said. “Duane’s under contract for two more years. That’s our position. We’re here to get our football team ready for the season, and he should be a part of it.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Zach Orr free agency tour continues. The free agent linebacker is spending Monday afternoon with the Texans, according to NFL sources who spoke with Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
Already, Orr has visited the Lions, Colts, and Jets since announcing his intent to return to football. Reportedly, the Colts were uncomfortable with Orr’s medical status, and that could have also been a sticking point for the Lions and Jets.
The Texans signed Sio Moore in June as a low-cost depth option and Orr could be another late offseason addition to the linebacker group. After John Simon left in free agency to join the rival Colts, the Texans would like to sure up the unit as much as possible with the resources that are left.
Orr retired from football earlier this year, citing a congenital spinal condition. After gathering additional medical opinions, however, the 25-year-old changed course and decided that he wanted to play in 2017. Orr was initially a restricted free agent under the Ravens’ control, but he is now an UFA since the Ravens did not tender him an offer after he announced his retirement.
Orr had 130 tackles for the Ravens in 2016 – leading the Ravens by a wide margin – and earned second-team All-Pro honors. From a talent perspective, he’d be a huge addition to the Texans or any defense that would have him. However, teams will have to weigh out the upside against the potential risk associated with Orr taking the field.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Texans left tackle Duane Brown stayed away from the team during voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp to express his displeasure over his current contract. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports, unsurprisingly, that Brown is expected to miss the start of training camp as well.
Brown is subject to fines of $40K for each day of camp that he holds out, though Wilson concedes that the 31-year-old has some leverage considering that Houston, which has championship aspirations this season but virtually no experience at the quarterback position, does not have an adequate replacement at left tackle. Nonetheless, there have been no negotiations between player and team, as Brown still has two years remaining on his current contract and the Texans do not renegotiate deals with two or more years remaining (Houston made exceptions to that rule for franchise icons Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt, but as good as Brown has been, he is not at that level).
Wilson adds, however, that Brown is not expected to miss any regular season games, so if the team does not give in, it sounds as if Brown will ultimately report. He ranks 11th among left tackles in cash compensation this year, as the six-year, $53.4MM deal he signed with Houston a few years ago has been surpassed by larger deals. He stands to earn $9.65MM in 2017.
In other Texans news, Wilson writes that the team and star wideout DeAndre Hopkins remain “highly motivated” to come to terms on a long-term deal, although negotiations have yet to pick up steam. However, there has been no “acrimony” on either side, and Hopkins is expected to report to camp on time, in contrast to his one-day holdout last year. Hopkins is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is due to earn $7.9MM in 2017.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After Texans running back D’Onta Foreman‘s arrest on charges of marijuana and unlawful gun possession last Sunday, his attorney, Chip Lewis, claimed that the rookie didn’t “use or possess” the drug. To help clear himself of wrongdoing, Foreman was voluntarily tested for marijuana, and the results came back negative, according to Lewis (via Mark Berman of FOX 26). “It makes it clear that he was telling the truth,” Lewis said of the outcome. “He was not using marijuana.” Foreman has a July 31 court date, though there’s reportedly a strong likelihood of a postponement because the Texans will be at training camp in West Virginia then.
- Texans running back D’Onta Foreman has a July 31 court date in Texas stemming from his arrest this past weekend on misdemeanor drug and gun charges, but a postponement is likely, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Foreman will be out of state then with the Texans, who begin training camp in West Virginia on July 25.
Texans rookie running back D’Onta Foreman was arrested early this morning and charged with marijuana possession of two ounces or less and unlawful carrying of a weapon, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. The weapon in question was a firearm.
Foreman’s lawyer, Chip Lewis, released a statement (Twitter link, via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com) that indicates the handgun was purchased legally and registered in Foreman’s name, and Lewis notes the running back alerted police he had a gun in his vehicle before police searched it. The statement also says Foreman did not “use or possess” the marijuana found.
Needless to say, this is a disappointing start to Foreman’s career. Houston selected Foreman, a Texas product, in the third round (No. 89 overall) of this year’s draft, and they signed him to his rookie contract just two days after minicamp ended last month. During his final season with the Longhorns (his only season as a starter), Foreman put on a show, rushing for 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was the eighth running back selected in the draft.
Foreman is expected to compete with Alfred Blue and 2016 fourth-round pick Tyler Ervin for carries behind starter Lamar Miller. Foreman’s upside and draft status, though, suggest that he could carve out a significant role sooner rather than later.
But his arrest could delay the start of his professional career, as the league could suspend Foreman even if the criminal charges are favorably resolved. As Davis writes, the arresting agency was the University of Texas police department, which released the following statement:
“[Officers] responded to a report of the smell of marijuana coming from three occupied vehicles near the southwest side of San Jacinto residence hall on campus. Officers arrived on the scene discovered marijuana in each vehicle and also discovered a firearm in one of them. The owner of the firearm, D’Onta Foreman, was arrested for Unlawful Carrying of Weapons and Possession of Marijuana and booked into Travis County Jail. Six other male suspects were cited and released for Possession of Marijuana.”
Foreman was released on bond around noon today. The Texans, meanwhile, issued a statement of their own indicating that they are aware of the situation, are gathering information, and will have no further comment at this time (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
- Texans rookie offensive lineman Julién Davenport could be in line for a large role this season, and coach Bill O’Brien already likes what he’s seen from the fourth-rounder. “I like Julién,” O’Brien told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a rookie, so they’re all learning. It’s tough in no pads. I think the true test for a lineman is when the full pads are on in camp, but so far he’s smart, he works hard, he’s got a good skillset for that position. So far, so good, but again the true test for lineman is when they put pads on.”
- Our Offseason in Review series is underway, and we’ve already taken a look at six AFC teams, including the Bills, Texans, Browns, Broncos, Bengals, and Titans.
The Texans finished 9-7 and won the AFC South for the second consecutive year, and they did so with quarterback play that was below average to say the least. It’s fair to wonder how far Houston may have advanced with competence under center, and the club went into the 2017 offseason with signal-caller as the No. 1 item on its to-do list.
- Ryan Griffin, TE: Three years, $9MM. $3.225MM guaranteed.
- Breno Giacomini, T: One year, $2.75MM. $750K guaranteed.
- Shane Lechler, P: One year, $2MM. $500K guaranteed.
- Nick Novak, L: One year, $1.15MM. $250K guaranteed.
- Sio Moore, LB: One year, minimum salary benefit.
- Marcus Roberson, CB: One year, $690K.
When two of your six offseason signings were the re-upping of your kicker/punter combo, you didn’t have very busy spring. The Texans were among the least active clubs during the free agent period, and that’s a result of both cap space constrictions and roster makeup. Houston ranked in the bottom-third of the league with roughly $25MM to work with, so it didn’t have an exorbitant amount of funds to spread around. But the Texans’ squad was also relatively stable outside of quarterback (a position they weren’t going to fill in free agency), so upgrades were difficult to find.
Aside from Nick Novak and Shane Lechler (obligatory Punters Are People Too link), the only player Houston decided to re-sign was tight end Ryan Griffin, whom it inked to a cheap three-year deal. Griffin played second fiddle to C.J. Fiedorowicz in 2016, but still raked in 50 receptions on 74 targets. He didn’t do much else well, however, as he earned poor blocking grades from Pro Football Focus and rarely played on special teams. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Griffin starts to lose playing time to second-year tight end Stephen Anderson next season.
Griffin could be lining up next to a new right tackle in 2017, as the Texans brought in former Jet/Seahawk Breno Giacomini to provide insurance given that Derek Newton won’t play until at least 2018. Now 31 years old, Giacomini has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness over the past two seasons, but he’d been roughly an average player prior to that. Chris Clark, who started 14 games in the absence of Newton a year ago, rated among the league’s worst tackles in 2016, so Giacomini shouldn’t have any trouble overtaking him for the starting job.
While Giacomini could end up providing surprising production at a cheap rate, it’s a tad odd that Houston didn’t go after a more high-profile addition at tackle. The Texans did add Bucknell product Julien Davenport in the fourth round, and while he could conceivably compete for snaps during his rookie campaign, Houston could have attempted to sign someone like Ricky Wagner (admittedly, an expensive undertaking) or Mike Remmers in free agency. Austin Pasztor, who played well for the Browns in 2016, is still available, and would still be a welcome supplement to the Texans’ front five.
As PFR’s Connor Byrne noted in his pre-free agency Texans analysis, Houston could have addressed the safety position this offseason, as well, but aside from selecting Treston Decoud in the fifth round, the club stood pat while losing 13-game starter Quintin Demps to the Bears. Andre Hal and Corey Moore project as Houston’s 2017’s starters, but both earned middling grades from PFF last year. The Texans could have targeted free agent options such as Tony Jefferson, Duron Harmon, or D.J. Swearinger earlier this year, but players such as Corey Graham and Jairus Byrd are still on the open market.