Texans Rumors

AFC South Notes: Colts, Jaguars, Metchie

The Colts had Isaiah Rodgers in mind when they traded Stephon Gilmore and let Brandon Facyson defect to the Raiders in free agency. It now looks like Rodgers, currently under investigation for an alleged violation of the NFL’s gambling policy, will not play this season. Three other players — C.J. Moore, Quintez Cephus and Shaka Toney — found to have bet on NFL games received indefinite bans that will cover at least the 2023 season. The Colts did not become aware of the Rodgers investigation until it surfaced recently, Stephen Holder of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter).

Although the Colts did not know about any Rodgers gambling probe during the draft, they chose cornerback Julius Brents in the second round. But the team already had a long-term need at the position, even if Rodgers was part of the 2023 equation. Rodgers, who admitted to some degree of wrongdoing hours after the report of his gambling surfaced, was not at the Colts’ latest OTA session, per Holder. The fourth-year defender had attended Indy voluntary workouts this offseason.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • As the list of AFC teams connected to DeAndre Hopkins expanded again today — via the former All-Pro’s upcoming Titans meeting — the Jaguars do not appear interested. Doug Pederson said (via 1010 AM’s Mia O’Brien) it is “not a reality” for the team to add another receiver piece. This makes sense, as the Jaguars already have their top three receivers tied to notable contracts. The team’s top move for 2023 was adding Calvin Ridley to a receiving corps housing Christian Kirk‘s $18MM-per-year contract and Zay Jones‘ $8MM-AAV deal. Ridley is tied to a $10.9MM fifth-year option, which tolled from 2022 due to his gambling-induced absence.
  • On the subject of re-emerging receivers, the Texans will have to wait a bit longer for John Metchie. While the 2022 second-round pick did some offseason work, he is currently sidelined with a hamstring strain. Metchie suffered the injury during the first phase of Houston’s offseason program, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who adds a training camp return is expected. Metchie is on his way back from the leukemia diagnosis that sidelined him as a rookie. The Alabama product also has not played since suffering a torn ACL late in the 2021 season.
  • A ruptured Achilles tendon kept Rigoberto Sanchez off the field throughout last season, but the veteran Colts punter is back at work. Sanchez is punting again, per the Indianapolis Star, though he has yet to participate in a Colts workout. The team is ramping up its seventh-year punter, who sustained the injury to his punting leg in practice just before last season. Sanchez, who has also served as Indy’s kickoff man, is entering the final season of his four-year, $11.6MM contract. Sanchez, 28, is the only punter on Indianapolis’ roster.

Contract Details: Trubisky, K. Jackson, Texans

Here are a few details on recently-signed contracts/extensions:

  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year extension. Signing bonus of $6.92MM. 2023-25 salaries (unguaranteed) of $1.08MM, $4.25MM, and $5MM. 90-man offseason roster bonuses of $1MM in 2024 and 2025. Up to $4.25MM of incentives in 2023. Up to $14.5MM in incentives from 2024-25. Via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Kareem Jackson, S (Broncos): One-year, $2.67MM. Despite a 13-year career as a full-time starter, only guarantee is $152.5K signing bonus. Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News.com.
  • Byron Cowart, DT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Includes injury waiver for previous back and knee injuries. Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2.
  • Neville Hewitt, LB (Texans): One-year. $1.2MM salary. Signing bonus of $300K. Playing time incentives of up to $300K. Per game active roster bonus of up to $200K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Greg Little, OT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Signing bonus of $100K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Shaq Mason, G (Texans): Three-year, $36MM extension ($22MM guaranteed) on top of one remaining year of club control in 2023. Signing bonus of $10MM. 2023-26 salaries of $1.07MM (guaranteed) $9.25MM (guaranteed), $10MM ($1.05MM guaranteed), and $10.4MM (unguaranteed). Annual per game active roster bonus of up to $500K. Annual Pro Bowl incentive of $250K. $50K workout bonus from 2024-26. Twitter link via Wilson.

Trubisky was already under contract through 2023, and he was due an $8MM salary for the upcoming year. So, as Florio notes, the 28-year-old passer essentially gave the Steelers two more years of club control without any increase in 2023 pay and without securing any guaranteed money in the two tack-on years. It seems that after Pittsburgh unexpectedly re-signed fellow signal-caller Mason Rudolph, Trubisky was worried that he might be released, so in order to lock in the $8MM he was already planning to earn this season, he agreed to a team-friendly extension.

His contract is now due to expire when Kenny Pickett‘s rookie deal expires, so the Steelers will at least have a high-end backup on hand as Pickett seeks to establish himself as Pittsburgh’s franchise QB.

2023 NFL Cap Space, By Team

The start of June has served as a key NFL financial period for decades. While teams no longer have to wait until after June 1 to make that cost-splitting cut designation, teams pick up the savings from those transactions today. With a handful of teams making post-June 1 cuts this year, here is how each team’s cap space (courtesy of OverTheCap) looks as of Friday:

  1. Chicago Bears: $32.58MM
  2. Carolina Panthers: $27.25MM
  3. Arizona Cardinals: $26.68MM
  4. New York Jets: $24.79MM
  5. Detroit Lions: $23.72MM
  6. Indianapolis Colts: $23.39MM
  7. Dallas Cowboys: $20.48MM
  8. Houston Texans: $16.81MM
  9. Green Bay Packers: $16.57MM
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers: $15.73MM
  11. Cincinnati Bengals: $14.92MM
  12. New Orleans Saints: $14.27MM
  13. New England Patriots: $14.12MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $13.9MM
  15. Cleveland Browns: $13.86MM
  16. Philadelphia Eagles: $13.85MM
  17. Los Angeles Chargers: $12.61MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $12MM
  19. Washington Commanders: $11.57MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $11.54MM
  21. San Francisco 49ers: $10.72MM
  22. Atlanta Falcons: $10.7MM
  23. Denver Broncos: $10.13MM
  24. Minnesota Vikings: $9.75MM
  25. Tennessee Titans: $7.99MM
  26. Seattle Seahawks: $7.94MM
  27. New York Giants: $3.82MM
  28. Las Vegas Raiders: $3.37MM
  29. Los Angeles Rams: $1.49MM
  30. Buffalo Bills: $1.4MM
  31. Kansas City Chiefs: $653K
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $402K

The Dolphins gained the most from a post-June 1 cut (Byron Jones) this year, creating $13.6MM in cap space from a deal that will spread out the cornerback’s dead money through 2024. But the Browns (John Johnson, Jadeveon Clowney) and Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott) created more than $10MM in space as well.

The Jets’ number is a bit deceiving. They are still working on a restructure with Aaron Rodgers, as the trade acquisition’s cap number — after a Packers restructure — sits at just $1.22MM. In 2024, that number skyrockets to $107.6MM. Rodgers’ cap hit will almost definitely will climb before Week 1, so viewing the Jets along with the other teams north of $20MM in space is not entirely accurate.

Minnesota is moving closer to separating from its $12.6MM-per-year Dalvin Cook contract. The team already created some space by trading Za’Darius Smith to the Browns. Cleveland, which is one of the teams connected to DeAndre Hopkins, added Smith and did so with help from its Deshaun Watson restructure. Watson was set to count $54.9MM against the Browns’ 2023 cap. That number is down to $19.1MM, though the Browns’ restructure both ballooned Watson’s mid-2020s cap figures to $63.9MM — which would shatter the NFL record — and added a 2027 void year.

Tampa Bay and Los Angeles sit atop the league in dead money, with the Bucs — largely from their April 2022 Tom Brady restructure — checking in at $75.3MM here. That total comprises nearly 33% of the Bucs’ 2023 cap sheet. The Rams, at more than $74MM, are not far behind. Despite the Bills and Chiefs — the teams most frequently tied to Hopkins — joining the Bucs and Rams near the bottom of the league in cap space, both AFC contenders also sit in the bottom five in dead money.

DeAndre Hopkins Eyeing Texans Reunion?

The top storyline around the league remains DeAndre Hopkins‘ first career foray into free agency and where he will ultimately land. Another team has emerged as a potential destination.

Hopkins is “interested in re-joining” the Texans, reports Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. Houston selected the three-time All-Pro in 2013, and he spent the first seven seasons of his career there. His time with the team included five campaigns of more than 1,000 receiving yards, but ended with a controversial trade to the Cardinals in 2020.

The architect of that deal on the Texans’ side (Bill O’Brien) is no longer in Houston, though the same is also true of Hopkins’ close friend, quarterback Deshaun Watson. The latter is now in Cleveland, one of many teams which has been named as a potential Hopkins suitor. Wilson notes that a Cleveland deal for Hopkins is considered a “strong possibility,” something which likely distinguishes it from a hypothetical Texans reunion.

Houston has made a number of alterations to its WR room this offseason, including the signings of Robert Woods and Noah Brown from the Titans and Cowboys, respectively. The Texans also added a pair of wideouts (Nathaniel Dell and Xavier Hutchinson) during this year’s draft, and have 2022 second-rounder John Metchie set to debut in the NFL after a cancer diagnosis caused him to miss his entire rookie campaign. With Brandin Cooks having been traded earlier in the offseason, though, room for a veteran pass catcher certainly exists in Houston.

As is the case for many teams, finances represent an obstacle to any serious Hopkins pursuit on the Texans’ part. The rebuilding AFC South outfit currently has $16.8MM in cap space, but that figure will drop considerably once their top two draft picks from this year (quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.) sign their rookie contracts. If Hopkins holds firm on his reported desire to sign a contract similar in value to the $15MM Odell Beckham Jr. accord, plenty of maneuvering would be needed for Houston to make an aggressive push to re-acquire him.

The presence of O’Brien hasn’t stopped the Patriots from being linked to Hopkins now that he is a free agent. While a return to the franchise where the pair spent considerable time together appears to be on the radar, it will be interesting to see if it emerges as a serious possibility relative to the other contenders to sign the latter.

Traded NFL Draft Picks For 2024

As teams regroup on potential trade talks, 2024 draft picks represent the top non-player assets available. Although the usual run of draft-weekend trades featured teams moving up and down the 2023 board, a high number of 2024 picks have changed hands. The Cardinals resided at the center of such movement, but many other teams have already made changes to their 2024 draft arsenals. Three first-rounders have already been traded, and a fourth — barring an Aaron Rodgers injury — will be expected to transfer.

Here are the 2024 picks to have changed hands thus far:

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

  • Lions obtained Vikings‘ pick in 2022 deadline deal that sent T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota
  • As part of Payton trade, Broncos collected Saints‘ third
  • As part of Anderson trade, Cardinals acquired Texans’ 2024 third
  • Cardinals picked up Titans‘ 2024 third in deal that allowed Tennessee to draft Will Levis at No. 33
  • Seahawks acquired third from Broncos in exchange for No. 83 overall pick (CB Riley Moss)
    • It is not yet known if Seattle will add Denver or New Orleans’ 2024 third
  • Texans landed third from Eagles in trade for No. 105 (CB Kelee Ringo)

Round 4

Round 5

Round 6

Round 7

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/30/23

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Washington Commanders

Johnson has bounced around a bit since his two-year Buccaneers stay. After a 360-yard receiving season in 2021, the former fifth-round pick has failed to catch on with the Texans or Raiders. Johnson played in two Houston games last year and, after signing a reserve/futures deal with the Raiders, received his Las Vegas walking papers earlier this month. In addition to the notable 2021 showing, Johnson has seven playoff receptions on his resume.

Stallworth re-signed with the Texans in February but ended up on IR — due to what his agent called a short-term injury — earlier this month. This settlement will allow Stallworth to heal up and attempt to play this season elsewhere. Stallworth played in seven games (six with the Chiefs, one with the Texans) last season but logged 32 as primarily a Colts backup from 2020-21. The veteran D-tackle is going into his age-28 season.

Each NFL Franchise’s Richest QB Contract

The quarterback market has moved again this offseason. A year after Aaron Rodgers raised the average annual value bar past $50MM, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson did so on long-term extensions. Overall, four teams have authorized the most lucrative QB deal in their respective histories this offseason. Two more — the Bengals and Chargers — are in talks about record-setting extensions as well.

On that note, here is the richest quarterback contract each team has authorized. Although teams like the Jets and Lions have acquired big-ticket contracts via trade, only teams’ extensions or free agency agreements will qualify here.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

  • Jay Cutler, January 2014. Seven years, $126.7MM. $38MM fully guaranteed

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Carson Palmer, December 2005. Six years, $97MM. $30.8MM fully guaranteed

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

In trading this contract to the Jets in April, the Packers restructured the deal. Rodgers’ exit will still tag the Pack with $40.3MM in 2023 dead money.

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Carr’s second Raiders deal — agreed to in April 2022 — was worth $40.5MM per year. The full guarantee, thanks to the February escape hatch the team built into the contract, checked in lower than Carr’s initial Raiders extension.

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

Cousins’ 2020 extension checked in with a higher AAV ($33MM) but did not approach his initial Minnesota pact for guarantees.

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Chad Pennington, September 2004. Seven years, $64MM. $23MM guaranteed.

The Jets have signed three quarterbacks to deals involving more guaranteed money, but each of those contracts — for Mark Sanchez (2009), Sam Darnold (2018) and Zach Wilson (2021) — was a rookie pact.

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Texans Eyeing Tytus Howard Extension

Not many areas on the Texans’ roster can be classified as true strengths, but the rebuilding team has devoted significant resources to fortifying its offensive line. Houston has already doled out two extensions up front this offseason — to Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. Another might be coming soon.

Earlier this year, Tytus Howard expressed interest in an offseason extension. The Texans are expected to make this a priority, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports. It sounds like Howard has moved to the top of Houston’s extension queue, doing so despite arriving as a first-round pick during Brian Gaine‘s short GM tenure.

The Texans fired Gaine just after the 2019 draft, which featured Howard as the team’s top investment. Some inconsistency — in terms of performance level, availability and positional alignment — has ensued during Howard’s rookie contract, but Houston exercised the former No. 23 overall pick’s fully guaranteed fifth-year option in May 2022. Howard is tied to a $13.2MM salary this season. It should be expected an extension will cost more, in terms of average annual value.

Howard, who turned 27 last week, played a 17-game season for the first time as a pro. He worked almost exclusively at right tackle, after spending much of the 2021 season at guard and left tackle. That ’21 season assignment came largely due to Tunsil’s early-season injury. Last season, Tunsil and Howard stayed healthy. This did not exactly translate to success, with the Texans going 3-13-1, or quarterback progress. But the team has a new passer in place this year. It looks like the Texans plan to pair C.J. Stroud‘s rookie contract with two lucrative tackle accords.

For the second time, the Texans made Tunsil the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman. The Pro Bowler is signed to a three-year, $75MM deal, which runs through 2026. Stroud’s rookie contract will span four years as well, with the fifth-year option making it possible for the deal to go through 2027. Either way, Stroud’s deal will make it possible for the Texans to devote more money to starters at other spots for the foreseeable future. Not long after the Tunsil re-up, the team moved further down this road by extending Mason, giving the guard trade acquisition a three-year, $36MM deal. This came after Houston chose center Juice Scruggs in the second round.

While both those contracts cover Stroud’s rookie-deal time, it should be expected a Howard pact will tie the Alabama State alum to the team into the late 2020s. Pro Football Focus rated Howard just outside the top 40 among tackles last season, marking a nice improvement for the Division I-FCS product. Howard could set himself up for a bigger payday by continuing this momentum in a contract year, but opting for a commitment ahead of that point makes sense as well.

Howard should not be expected to join Tunsil as a top-three highest-paid player at his position. The Chiefs moved the right tackle bar to $20MM per year, via their Jawaan Taylor agreement, and Lane Johnson subsequently topped it. Howard could take aim at the five-year, $87.5MM deal the Broncos handed 2018 first-rounder Mike McGlinchey. Though, the latter’s superior track record might make that difficult. Two other tackles — the Colts’ Braden Smith and Panthers’ Taylor Moton — are tied to deals in the $17MM-AAV ballpark.

Tunsil’s status as the league’s highest-paid lineman and Howard’s smaller sample size of promising work could complicate negotiations, but it looks fairly clear GM Nick Caserio will make an effort to have both the team’s tackles locked down soon.

Texans Working Out FA WR Preston Williams

Following the draft and free agency, the Texans have plenty of numbers at the wide receiver position. Still, it looks like they may be interested in adding a big, veteran body to the room after recently working out former Dolphins wide out Preston Williams, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2.

Williams is a former undrafted free agent who declared for the draft due to a stellar junior year at Colorado State after transferring from Tennessee. During his lone season in Fort Collins, Williams dominated the Mountain West Conference with 96 catches for 1,345 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

He signed with the Dolphins out of college and ended up not only making the 53-man roster but earning a starting role, as well. Williams started his first seven game before ultimately suffering a season-ending ACL tear in Week 8. He had 32 receptions for 428 yards and three touchdowns before going down with the injury. The 2020 season saw him follow the same pattern, starting seven of the first eight games before getting shut down with an injury for the second half of the season.

Injury troubles sporadically made him miss nine games the next season. After he failed to eclipse eight game appearances in any single season, the Dolphins waived Williams. He signed to the Panthers’ practice squad for the 2022 season but only made an appearance in the team’s season finale, appearing only in two offensive plays and seven special teams snaps. He was released by Carolina last week.

Williams provides elite size at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds but still has the athletic ability to field punts, something he did in Miami as a rookie. For Houston, he could provide another strong redzone target out wide other than Nico Collins or rookie Xavier Hutchinson. If he can earn his way to a roster spot this summer, the Texans will likely be focused on his health and ability to catch contested balls in the endzone.

Texans Not Shopping QB Davis Mills

Deshaun Watson‘s off-field turmoil led to the Texans effectively hitting pause. They did not make a major investment at quarterback in 2021, when Watson spent the year as a healthy scratch, or 2022. This left Davis Mills as the team’s primary starter. The team changed plans this year, leaving Mills in limbo.

Houston signed Case Keenum shortly after this year’s legal tampering period began and then, despite persistent rumors of preferring this class’ top defensive ends compared to the non-Bryce Young QB lot, chose C.J. Stroud second overall. Stroud and Keenum would seem to represent the 1-2 QB depth chart during DeMeco Ryans‘ first HC season, but Mills remains in the picture. For now, at least, the Texans intend to keep it that way.

[RELATED: Cal McNair Denies Influencing Stroud Selection]

Mills is believed to have generated trade interest, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who adds the Texans are not eager to deal the former third-round pick. Mills took the first reps at Texans OTAs on Tuesday.

The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to guide the 2021 team, which was hamstrung by its $39MM-per-year starting QB’s absence, but Mills took over and showed promise to close that season. He did not make much progress last season, with the Texans producing fewer wins. Mills has made 26 career starts; 15 of those came last season. The Stanford product led the league with 15 INTs, despite sitting behind Kyle Allen for two games. Mills’ 78.8 passer rating came in ahead of only Kenny Pickett and Zach Wilson among qualified QBs last year.

Mills, 24, would not seem to hold too much trade value at present. An injury elsewhere could change that, but Mills would profile as a backup option as he enters his third NFL season. Mills struggled despite the return of All-Pro left tackle Laremy Tunsil in 2022, but the Texans still sported a suboptimal supporting cast around their quarterback. Mills piloted the 2021 team to two wins in his final five starts, including an upset of the Chargers that ended up keeping them out of the playoffs, and completed nearly 67% of his passes (6.4 yards per attempt) as a rookie. It is conceivable another team would see him as a capable QB2.

Keenum, 35, signed a two-year, $6.25MM deal ($4MM guaranteed) to return to Houston. Stroud’s four-year rookie deal will be fully guaranteed. Mills is due $1.1MM and $1.4MM base salaries in 2023 and ’24, respectively. It would seem Mills, who engineered the game-winning Week 18 drive that kept the Texans from securing the No. 1 overall pick, no longer fits in Houston. The Texans do not have a fourth QB on their offseason roster, leaving Mills as a regular part of OTAs ahead of what could soon be a move into the background.