Texans Rumors

Demaryius Thomas Involved In Car Crash

Free agent veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas was involved in a rollover crash in Denver early Saturday morning, ABC 7’s Oscar Contreras writes. He reportedly suffered minor injuries. 

Police responded to the single-vehicle accident shortly after midnight. Thomas and another man suffered minor injuries, but a woman inside the car sustained potentially serious injuries though they were not thought to be life threatening.

Police are investigating the crash, but investigators have said neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be involved in the accident.

That is a scary situation for the former Broncos wideout, but it’s great news he escaped the incident without any major injuries.

In his ninth season in the league, Thomas started the first eight games of the season for the Broncos, making 36 grabs for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He was acquired by the Texans at midseason and finished the campaign in Houston, logging 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Earlier this week, the four-time Pro Bowl selection was released from the team.

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Thomas In Line For Injury Protection

In agreeing to trade for Joe Flacco, the Broncos made an early move to attempt to upgrade at quarterback. As bad as things have gone at quarterback for the Broncos over the past three years, the Jaguars have experienced more trouble. The Jags were mentioned as a Flacco suitor earlier this offseason, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets the team continued to have interest until the Broncos pulled the trigger. However, Denver’s offer of a fourth-round pick was the best proposal Baltimore received, La Canfora adds. This was the Broncos’ fourth-round pick (No. 106), not the selection they acquired from the Texans in exchange for Demaryius Thomas (No. 118).

  • Thomas’ Texans tenure did not last long, with the team predictably balking on the former Pro Bowl wide receiver’s lofty 2019 salary. But with the Texans making the move to release the 31-year-old wideout while he is still recovering from a severe Achilles injury, Thomas is in line to receive injury protection, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Article 45 of the CBA stipulates Thomas would stand to receive $1.2MM from the Texans, reducing the franchise’s cap savings on this move from $14MM to $12.8MM. Nevertheless, Thomas’ salary coming off the Texans’ books increases their cap space to nearly $76MM.

Texans Release Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas‘s tenure with the Texans has come to an end, as the team announced it has released the veteran wideout. James Palmer of the NFL Network first reported (via Twitter) that the release was forthcoming, and ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates tweets that Thomas was released with a failed physical designation.

After spending eight-plus seasons with the Broncos, the 31-year-old was traded to the Texans (along with a seventh-rounder) for a fourth-rounder and seventh-rounder back in October. Thomas proceeded to play in seven games for Houston, hauling in 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. However, he tore his Achilles in late December, ending his season.

As Palmer notes, the release isn’t an indication that the Texans think Thomas is done. The wideout tore his Achilles during the 2011 offseason, but he was fully healthy after only six months. It will naturally take the veteran a bit more time to recover this time around, but it doesn’t sound like this is the end of the road for the receiver (though Yates observes that Thomas does have a long recovery ahead of him).

Thomas was due $14MM next season, but thanks to an “out” in his contract, the Texans won’t be left with any dead cap. The team could theoretically look to re-sign Thomas at a smaller cap number, although the team is already pretty deep at the position. As of right now, the Texans will roll into next season with DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, and Will Fuller (who’s recovering from an ACL injury) atop their depth chart.

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O'Brien Could Give Up Play-Calling Duties

  • Last week, the Texans promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator. Head coach Bill O’Brien has called plays in the past, but O’Brien left the door open for Kelly to call plays during a recent radio interview, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). “There’s no doubt in my mind that Tim Kelly is ready to call plays”, O’Brien said, before adding that it would be “a collaborative effort.” Kelly was previously the team’s tight ends coach.

Texans Add T.J. Yates, Akeem Dent To Staff

Nearly five years ago, the Texans traded T.J. Yates in order to acquire Akeem Dent. In 2015, they became teammates after Yates re-signed in Houston. The duo will now begin their coaching careers on the same sideline.

The Texans announced Yates and Dent will be part of their staff, joining former standout Houston linebacker Brian Cushing in transitioning to coaching with the franchise. Both Yates and Dent will start at the bottom, the former quarterback joining the team as an offensive assistant and ex-linebacker signing on as a defensive assistant.

Yates was starting for the Texans as recently as the 2017 season, which saw Deshaun Watson go down with a rookie-year-ending injury, and was part of the brigade of passers to audition for the Redskins following injuries to Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. The most recent workout occurred in December, but it sounds like Yates, 31, is going to attempt to move into the coaching ranks.

The North Carolina alum played seven NFL seasons, the most notable action coming in a seven-start rookie campaign that featured Yates — subbing for an injured Matt Schaub — quarterback the Texans to their first playoff win. Yates also played for the Falcons and Dolphins, coming back to Houston after short stays with each team.

Dent, also 31, last played during the 2016 as a Texan, finishing off a three-season Houston tenure. The former third-round pick spent most of his career as a backup linebacker but started for the 2012 Falcons, who claimed the NFC’s top seed that year.

The Texans also hired Carl Smith to replace Sean Ryan as quarterbacks coach. Ryan departed for Detroit to be the Lions’ QBs instructor, and the Texans soon promoted tight ends coach Tim Kelly to OC. Smith spent the past eight seasons with the Seahawks, the first seven as Seattle’s QBs coach and 2018 as an associate head coach. His primary role, obviously, was overseeing Russell Wilson‘s development into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

Set to take over in guiding Watson, Smith has been an NFL quarterbacks coach since serving as offensive coordinator for the Saints from 1986-96. Smith, 70, served as either a QBs coach or OC with four franchises, also working with the Jaguars and Browns. Smith’s lone season away from the NFL in the past 33 years came as USC’s QBs coach during the Trojans’ most recent national championship year (2004).

The Texans also hired John Aylward as an offensive assistant.

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Texans To Promote Tim Kelly To OC

After going two seasons without an offensive coordinator, the Texans look ready to take a more traditional route in 2019.

They are planning to promote tight ends coach Tim Kelly to work as the offensive coordinator next season, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM reports (on Twitter). Will Lawing is expected to take Kelly’s place coaching Houston’s tight ends.

The Texans parted ways with former OC George Godsey after the 2016 season, and Kelly then rose from offensive quality control coach to tight ends instructor. He had spent the first three years of Bill O’Brien‘s Texans tenure in that lower-level role. Prior to that, Kelly worked as a graduate assistant on O’Brien’s Penn State staff.

This points to the Texans viewing Kelly as a rising coaching talent. Godsey, who served in this role for two seasons, has been the only OC during O’Brien’s tenure. Houston’s head coach did not hire an OC during his 2014 debut campaign. It is not known if Kelly or O’Brien will call plays in 2019, but given the promotion, it is certain Kelly’s input will greatly expand.

This will be Kelly’s first coordinator role in nine years. Prior to his time with O’Brien, he, interestingly, served as defensive coordinator at Division II Minnesota State-Moorhead in 2010.

Houston’s staff lost a key member this week, with quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan taking a job as the Lions’ QBs coach. Ryan interviewed for the Browns’ OC job last year but took a lateral move during this hiring period. He would have been the natural choice for this promotion in Houston, but the Texans may have been grooming Kelly.

The Texans’ No. 11-ranked scoring offense represents the highest ranking during the O’Brien era (though, Houston only deployed the No. 21 DVOA offense). This would make sense given Deshaun Watson‘s 16 starts compared to the franchise’s previous difficulties landing a starting quarterback. O’Brien and Kelly will attempt to improve on that. The Texans have not yet hired another quarterbacks coach.

Lawing worked as an offensive assistant, helping with the team’s offensive linemen, the past two years. Lawing also made the move to the NFL after serving as a GA under O’Brien at Penn State.

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Brian Cushing Accepts Texans Staff Position

Brian Cushing attempted to land elsewhere as a player last season, but following his Texans release, the veteran linebacker did not play in 2018. He may be ready to call it quits and transition to coaching.

The nine-year Texans veteran accepted a position on Houston’s staff, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter). Cushing, 32, will be involved with the Texans’ strength and conditioning staff while helping on defense as well.

Houston cut ties with Cushing early during the 2018 offseason, transitioning to Zach Cunningham playing alongside Benardrick McKinney.

A first-round pick in 2009, Cushing won defensive rookie of the year honors and made the Pro Bowl that year. He earned a Texans extension, but the former USC standout’s career also included two performance-enhancing drug suspensions — the second of which a 10-game ban in 2017.

He remains the franchise’s all-time tackles leader with 674 stops.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Lock, Texans, Colts, Vinatieri, Assistant Coaches

The 2019 NFL Draft is less than three months away, with the combine right around the corner. Draft buzz is starting to heat up, and one team in a particularly interesting situation is the Broncos. Denver has the tenth overall pick, and has been looking for a new franchise quarterback ever since Peyton Manning retired. While the team has Case Keenum under contract for one more year, it seems like there’s a very good chance the Broncos take a quarterback early yet again.

Adding fuel to that fire, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post hears that Broncos GM John Elway is “smitten” with Missouri signal caller Drew Lock, and that Elway’s infatuation with the quarterback was “the worst-kept secret at the Senior Bowl.” Lock seems like a real possibility to go to the Broncos at ten, and could be the first quarterback taken if Dwayne Haskins slips a little bit. If the Broncos do draft a quarterback, they could get out of Keenum’s contract relatively easily, or choose to keep him on for one year as a bridge quarterback/mentor.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Texans made a front office move today, bringing in former Jets executive Clay Hampton to be their new director of football operations, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). McClain notes that Hampton was in the Jets’ front office for 17 years, working his way up from being a ball boy to become their director of football operations. McClain also writes that Hampton will report directly to GM Brian Gaine who worked for the Jets at the same time as Hampton.
  • Adam Vinatieri officially signed on for a 24th season a few days ago, and now we have the details on his new contract with the Colts. Vinatieri signed a one-year $3.875MM deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Vinatieri turned 46 in December but showed no signs of slowing down this season, even though he did miss two kicks in Indianapolis’ divisional round playoff loss to the Chiefs.
  • Speaking of the Colts, the team made a couple of new additions to Frank Reich’s staff today. They hired Jason Michael as their tight ends coach and Chris Strausser as their offensive line coach, the team announced in a tweet. The Colts’ offensive line had an amazing turn around in 2018, but they fired Dave DeGuglielmo after the season so Reich could bring in one of his own guys, and he apparently settled on Strausser, who was with the Broncos last season. Strausser reportedly was also drawing interest from the Browns.

 

49ers, Packers Interview Wes Welker

Wes Welker spent the past two seasons working as a Texans offensive assistant, but other teams are interested in the former All-Pro wide receiver.

Both the 49ers and Packers met with Welker, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

It is unclear if Welker’s contract is up, because the Texans recently blocked the young assistant from an interview. Last year, the Texans didn’t allow Welker to interview for the Broncos’ wide receivers coach position. But Welker met with the 49ers and Packers this year, indicating he could be on the move soon.

The 49ers employ a wide receivers coach, Mike LaFleur, but the Matt LaFleur-led Packers do not. The Packers were interested in Shawn Jefferson for that role, but he since accepted a job with the Jets.

Welker, 37, played 12 NFL seasons before retiring as a member of the St. Louis Rams after the 2015 campaign. He spent 2018 assisting Texans wideouts coach John Perry, working with the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, former teammate Demaryius Thomas and rookie Keke Coutee.

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Texans Offered 2014 2nd-Rounder For Hoyer

  • Included in Seth Wickersham’s must-read ESPN.com piece about the Jimmy Haslam-era Browns: a near-deal that would have added to the Browns and Texans‘ unique quarterback pipeline. After Cleveland chose Johnny Manziel in the 2014 first round, then-Browns GM Ray Farmer had to calm down a “furious” Brian Hoyer. The Texans soon called to offer their No. 33 overall pick for Cleveland’s then-starting quarterback, but Farmer declined the deal to get control of a draft that had gone haywire (with Mike Pettine leading the way for Justin Gilbert and Haslam behind the Manziel move). Hoyer played one more season with the Browns and in 2015 signed with the Texans, who used that No. 33 pick on offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo.