After nine years as an NFL offensive lineman, Texans center Justin Britt is expected to retire after being cut by Houston today, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. Britt had spent most of the 2022 season on the team’s reserve/non-football illness list, only appearing in one game.
Britt began his career as a second-round pick out of Missouri and would start all 16 games for the Seahawks, who drafted him, at right tackle. After moving to left guard in his sophomore season, Britt was moved a second time to center, where he would remain for the rest of his career. A serious knee injury would end Britt’s 2019 season, at the end of which the Seahawks would release him.
After spending the 2020 season in free agency getting workouts with the Packers and Chiefs, Britt eventually signed with the Texans for 2021. He was named the starting center and started 11 games during his first season in Houston as injuries nagged at him throughout the year. After a 2022 season opener that had Britt disappointed in himself, Britt was placed on the NFI list for the remainder of the season. It was reported that Britt was “working through personal issues related to football as he (contemplated) his options.” It wasn’t difficult to decipher what was implied by those comments. After only appearing in 20 of a potential 66 games from 2019 to now, many speculated that Britt was preparing to hang up his cleats.
On the Texans’ side of things, the move to release Britt clears approximately $3MM in cap space, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. After seeing Britt find the NFI list after Week 1, Houston turned to backup center Scott Quessenberry to start for the remainder of the season. Out of 36 centers that were graded for the 2022 season, Quessenberry ranked 36th in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). It wasn’t particularly close, either. With 35th ranked center Billy Price grading out with a 51.3 offensive grade, Quessenberry was a distant 36th with an offensive grade of 36.6. He held the league’s worst pass blocking grade (25.8) and run blocking grade (43.7) of any center in the league.
Quessenberry is set to hit free agency this year, leaving only Jimmy Morrissey, who began last season on the Texans’ practice squad, remaining on the roster. Houston may have to explore the free agent market for their next center. Veteran options Rodney Hudson and Jason Kelce should be hitting the open market this offseason. Kelce had a phenomenal season at 35 years old, while Hudson only played four games before being placed on IR. Both players contemplated retirement before the 2022 season. Jets center Connor McGovern had a strong contract year and Jon Feliciano, who switched to center last year for the Giants, should also be available. The Texans could also go the draft route for their next center with North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch, TCU’s Steve Avila, and Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz ranking as college football’s best draft-eligible centers, according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic.
Britt’s time in Texas was short-lived thanks to injury. He’ll be remembered as one of football’s grittier interior linemen after his career in Seattle and Houston. He leaves a tough hole for the Texans to fill.