Ka’imi Fairbairn

Texans To Re-Sign K Ka’imi Fairbairn

The Texans are keeping their kicker on another contract. Recent negotiations have produced an agreement with Ka’imi Fairbairn, with ESPN.com’s DJ Bien-Aime reporting the team has a deal in place with its longtime kicker.

Fairbairn’s contract is a three-year agreement, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. It is a three-year, $15.9MM deal, Wilson tweets. On average, this makes Fairbairn the NFL’s fifth-highest-paid kicker — behind Justin Tucker, Matt Gay, Graham Gano and Jason Myers. Fairbairn, 30, has been the Texans’ kicker since 2017.

[RELATED: Texans To Re-Sign TE Dalton Schultz]

A Hawaii native, Fairbairn led the NFL in field goal percentage last season. That came in just 12 games, with an injury keeping the veteran kicker out for a midseason stretch, but a 27-for-28 season is nonetheless impressive. Fairbairn completed that accuracy showing after making 93.5% of his field goal tries in 2022. Over the past two years, Fairbairn has made 11 of 12 attempts from beyond 50 yards, giving the Texans more reliability than most teams receive on long-range efforts.

Fairbairn began his game run in Houston in 2017, but the UCLA alum initially signed with the team as a 2016 UDFA. This marks his second long-term extension with the team, which rewarded its second-longest-tenured player with a four-year, $17.65MM deal in 2020.

While Fairbairn has proven to be a solid option when available, he has gone through two IR stints over the past three years. Little attention went to Fairbairn’s 2021 injury, given the state of the Texans at the time, but his five-game 2023 absence — due to a quad strain — generated more with the team on the rise. The Texans brought in Matt Ammendola to be their fill-in leg but saved an IR-return slot for Fairbairn despite being low on activations as they made their successful playoff push. Wednesday’s agreement does well to show the organization’s faith in the veteran specialist.

LB Azeez Al-Shaair Interested In Joining Texans; Latest On Jonathan Greenard

Two ex-49ers decision-makers moved to the AFC South last year, creating opportunities for unattached San Francisco cogs. Azeez Al-Shaair took one of them, landing with Ran Carthon‘s Titans on a one-year deal. After excelling in 2023, the former 49ers linebacker looks to have a chance at another reunion in the division.

Following a 163-tackle season, Al-Shaair is back on track for free agency. The former Fred WarnerDre Greenlaw sidekick is believed to be interested in rejoining DeMeco Ryans in Houston, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson.

Al-Shaair’s tackle total doubled as the most in a season in Titans history (1999-present). After seeking to be an every-down player, Al-Shaair should see his Tennessee stint generate a better market than he saw in 2023. The Titans nabbed Al-Shaair for just $5MM. With the 49ers extending Greenlaw in 2022, Al-Shaair’s path out of San Francisco seemed clear. But Ryans both coached him during both his seasons as the 49ers’ DC and as San Francisco’s inside linebackers coach in the two years prior.

The Texans used Christian Harris and Blake Cashman as their regular linebackers last season. Whereas Harris was a former third-round pick, Cashman had primarily worked as a special-teamer leading up to last season. The former Jets fifth-rounder enjoyed a productive year under Ryans, totaling 106 tackles, two sacks and an interception. Cashman is expected to generate some interest as a free agent, Wilson adds. Al-Shaair promises to cost more than Cashman in free agency, and the former 49ers UDFA has far more experience under Ryans.

Cash has done a lot of great things for us,” Texans GM Nick Caserio said. “We’ll work through the process. If we have the opportunity to bring him back, I think he’ll have a good role on the team.

With C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson tied to rookie contracts through at least 2025, the Texans have opportunities to bolster their roster. Caserio only has notable payments on the offensive and defensive lines at present, opening the door for payments elsewhere this offseason. Houston holds more than $67MM in cap space, which sits sixth in the NFL as of Thursday.

Jonathan Greenard stands as the Texans’ top free agent, and while both parties are interested in a second contract, the young edge rusher’s expected price tag may impede that. Greenard could draw offers in the $22MM-per-year neighborhood. Teams across the league are monitoring this situation, Wilson adds, noting Greenard’s price — which may well have risen now that the cap has settled at $255.4MM — may override a Texans desire to re-sign him.

Greenard led the team in sacks last season, notching a career-high 12.5. Greenard joins Danielle Hunter and Bryce Huff as top edge players set to be available. The Texans have until 11am CT on March 11, when the legal tampering period begins, to keep him off the market.

Houston also wants to retain kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, Wilson adds. That contract will not be a particularly expensive one to finalize. The Texans burned through all their IR activations before the regular season ended, using a number of them early. Saving one for Fairbairn, who came off the injured list in December, illustrated the team’s view of its veteran kicker.

The Texans’ kicker since 2017, Fairbairn played out a four-year, $17.65MM deal last season. He made a career-best 96.4% of his field goal tries (27 of 28). Fairbairn’s deal voids on March 13, tagging the Texans with $1.96MM in dead money if they do not re-sign him by then.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/16/23

Today’s minor transactions and standard gameday elevations for the Sunday slate of games:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Wilkinson returned to practice this week, and will be eligible to return to the lineup on Sunday given today’s activation. The addition of a starter up front will be welcomed by the Cardinals by giving them stability at the left guard spot in particular and by providing an upgrade in protection ahead of a matchup against the stout 49ers defensive front in general. The Cardinals now have four IR activations remaining.

Street was acquired from the Eagles at the trade deadline after he failed to find playing time this season. The 27-year-old has started all five of his appearances in Atlanta, however, racking up 14 tackles (including four for a loss) and one sack. Those numbers will help his free agent market this offseason, but a pectoral injury will sideline him for at least four weeks. If the Falcons fall short of the postseason, therefore, Street will not return in 2023.

McCain was a full-time starter with the Commanders over the past two seasons, but his release led to a one-year Giants agreement. The former fifth-rounder has 87 starts to his name, but he has been unable to carve out a role in New York’s secondary, playing only 19 defensive snaps. McCain has logged a 50% snap share on special teams, however, so his absence in the third phase will be notable if he is claimed off waivers or signed as a free agent by an interested team.

Texans To Release K Matt Ammendola; K Ka’imi Fairbairn Returns To Practice

DECEMBER 13: Fairbairn will indeed return to practice Wednesday, per Wilson. After five missed games, the seventh-year Texans kicker is on track to return to his post in Week 15.

DECEMBER 12: The Texans look to be making preparations for their standard kicker setup to be back in place. After Matt Ammendola kicked for the team for the past five games, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes Houston is releasing the young specialist from its practice squad.

This will clear the way for Ka’imi Fairbairn, whom Wilson adds is expected to be activated from IR this week. Fairbairn has missed more than the IR-mandated minimum game count due to a quad strain, but the playoff-contending team is on track to have him back in Week 15.

A third-year kicker, Ammendola worked as a fill-in option for the Chiefs and Cardinals last season. He kicked in 11 games for the Jets as a rookie in 2021. This season, the 27-year-old specialist has missed three field goals — one a 58-yard game-tying attempt at the end of a three-point Texans loss to the Jaguars — and an extra point.

Fairbairn has been Houston’s kicker since he arrived as a 2017 UDFA. The 29-year-old Hawaiian made 93.5% of his field goal tries last season — by far a career-high for a full campaign. Prior to the quad injury, Fairbairn had gotten off to a strong start this season. Through eight games, Fairbairn had made 18 of 19 field goal attempts and was 14-for-14 on extra points.

Although Fairbairn has not been officially designated for return, he should be expected to both begin practicing and return to action this week. The Texans also used an IR activation on their punter, Cameron Johnston, earlier this year.

Texans To Activate CB Derek Stingley Jr. From IR

1:57pm: With Fairbairn set to miss some time, the team has officially made the decision to place him on IR. He’ll be out for at least four weeks now, so even though Ammendola is only getting called up for tomorrow, a permanent roster move to cover the kicker position is likely soon.

With two new vacancies on the 53-man roster, the Texans have opted to utilize their practice squad to fill one. The team announced that it will be signing practice squad offensive guard Dieter Eiselen to the active roster.

Lastly, joining Fairbairn as a standard gameday elevation will be practice squad tight end Dalton Keene. With Brevin Jordan one of eight inactives heading into Sunday’s trip to Cincinnati, Keene will step in to back up Dalton Schultz and Eric Saubert.

9:45am: It sounds like Derek Stingley Jr. will be in the lineup when the Texans take on the Bengals tomorrow. The team is set to activate the cornerback from injured reserve, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has confirmed the news.

Stingley landed on injured reserve back in September after suffering a hamstring injury during practice. The Texans opened his 21-day activation window earlier this week when the cornerback returned to practice.

While the return to practice was obviously a positive development for Stingley, it sounded like the team was proceeding with caution with the former third-overall pick. Since Stingley had been sidelined for more than a month, the Texans were reportedly going to give the defender as much time as he needed to get into game shape. Apparently, it didn’t take all that long, as Stingley is set to be activated only days after being designated for return.

The LSU product hasn’t necessarily lived up to his third-overall-pick billing, but that’s mostly been thanks to injury. Stingley collected 43 tackles, one interception, and five passes defended to begin his rookie campaign, but a hamstring injury suffered in Week 10 ultimately forced him to miss the rest of the season. He had nine tackles in two starts to begin this season before landing on injured reserve.

To make room on the roster, the Texans have waived offensive lineman Austin Deculus. The 2022 sixth-round pick has seen time in 13 games over the past two seasons for Houston, including seven appearances (one start) this season. He was waived at the end of the preseason before landing on the practice squad, and there’s a good chance he follows a similar path this time around.

The Texans made one additional move as they prepare for Week 10. Per Wilson, the team has promoted kicker Matt Ammendola from the practice squad as a standard gameday elevation. Ka’imi Fairbairn is set to miss a handful of weeks while recovering from a strained quadriceps, so Houston will temporarily roll with the journeyman kicker. Ammendola has spent time with six different organizations since going undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 2020. He’s seen time in 15 career games, connecting on 18 of his 26 field goal attempts and 19 of his 22 extra point tries.

Texans DT Hassan Ridgeway Suffers Achilles Tear; K Ka’imi Fairbairn Could Miss Time

During the Texans’ dramatic win in Week 9, their defense and special teams units suffered injuries. Their D-line will be shorthanded while the team could be in need of a kicker in the near future.

Defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway suffered a torn Achilles in the victory over the Buccaneers, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports. That will require surgery, and his season will be over as a result. The 29-year-old signed a one-year, $4MM deal in free agency in a move which allowed him to follow head coach DeMeco Ryans from San Francisco to Houston. He had been in the starting lineup due to Sheldon Rankins‘ absence.

Ridgeway was activated from IR in time for Week 9, but his return has proven to be short-lived. In all, Ridgeway’s 2023 campaign will have consisted of just 62 defensive snaps and six tackles. As Wilson notes, the Texans are hopeful Rankins will be able to play in Week 10, a development which would soften the blow of the lost depth along the defensive interior.

In other injury news, kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn – who exited Sunday’s win with a quad injury – could miss time. Wilson reports he is set to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his injury, but there is already “concern” within the team that a multi-game absence could ensue. Houston managed a last-minute victory in Week 9 in part with several two-point attempts, but backup running back Dare Ogunbowale made his only field goal attempt during the contest.

Fairbairn, 29, has enjoyed another strong season, his seventh with the Texans. He has converted 18 of 19 field goal attempts (including every one from inside 50 yards), as well as all 14 of his extra point kicks. That has him on track to increase what is already a very strong career average on FGs (86.5%), and his absence would obviously be acutely felt. It will be interesting to see how the 4-4 Texans proceed in search of a short-term Fairbairn replacement if one does indeed become necessary.

NFL Restructures: Matthews, Hughes, Fairbairn

Here are a few details on recent contact restructures from around the league:

  • The Falcons made a move recently to restructure the deal of veteran offensive tackle Jake Matthews in order to clear some cap space, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Atlanta converted $9.5MM of Matthews’ 2023 base salary into a signing bonus. The move freed up approximately $7.13MM of cap space.
  • Defensive end Jerry Hughes agreed to a restructured deal with the Texans today, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. The move converts $2.67MM of his 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, clearing about $2.14MM of cap space for Houston. The deal also added four void years to the end of his deal to assist in spreading out the cap hit of the deal over time.
  • The Texans also took the opportunity today to restructure the contract of kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn, according to Wilson. Fairbairn did a similar adjustment for the team in 2022, in order to clear some cap space. While the exact details of today’s deal have not been released, Fairbairn’s payout in 2023 is expected to remain the same.

Contract Details: Watt, Rams, Texans

With teams preparing their cap sheets for the start of the NFL season, we’ve seen a number of front offices rework some contracts. We’ve compiled some of the recent contract maneuverings (as well as some details on recent signings and extension) below:

  • T.J. Watt, LB (Steelers): restructured contract yesterday, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The move opened $6.75MM in space for Pittsburgh. Watt inked a four-year deal worth up to $112MM (including $80MM guaranteed) last September.
  • Rob Havenstein, OT (Rams): three-year extension. The deal is worth $34.5MM, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The extension includes $24.1MM guaranteed and offers $6MM in incentives.
  • Tyler Higbee, TE (Rams): restructured contract earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The team converted $4.75MM of Higbee’s base salary into a signing bonus, creating $3.8MM in space.
  • Jalen Thompson, S (Cardinals): three-year extension. The $40MM deal includes $24.5MM in guaranteed money and a $10MM signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (on Twitter).
  • Lane Johnson, OT and Jake Elliott, K (Eagles): restructured contracts today, according to Yates (on Twitter). The Eagles converted $5.88MM of Johnson’s base salary and $2.715MM of Elliot’s base salary into signing bonuses, creating about $6.9MM in cap space.
  • O.J. Howard, TE (Texans): one-year deal. The contract is worth $1.035MM, according to Wilson (on Twitter). The tight end will receive $910K in offset from the $1.945MM guaranteed base salary he got from his previous deal with the Bills. When coupled with the $1.25MM signing bonus he got from Buffalo, Howard will earn a total of $3.25MM this year.
  • Eric Murray, S (Texans): restructured contract yesterday, per Yates (on Twitter). Specifically, the team converted $1.465MM of his contract into a signing bonus, opening $732.5K in cap space.
  • Ka’imi Fairbairn, K and Cameron Johnston, P (Texans): restructured contracts earlier this week, per Wilson (on Twitter). The two moves saved the Texans $2.1MM in cap savings.

Texans Place Brandin Cooks On Reserve/COVID-19 List

On the cusp of his sixth 1,000-yard receiving season, Brandin Cooks may not be able to push for that again until next week. He landed on the Texans’ reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday.

The Texans also placed kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn and linebacker Eric Wilson on their coronavirus list. This trio joins several others at present. Although the NFL relaxed protocols to allow for quicker returns for vaccinated players, this will still be a hurdle for Cooks and Co.

The thrice-traded wide receiver eclipsed 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in Houston’s win over Jacksonville last week. Cooks is now up to 947 yards this season. The eighth-year veteran would have two more chances to surpass 1,000 yards, in the event he is cleared before Week 17.

Cooks and Fairbairn are believed to be vaccinated, but David Culley said last week Wilson was not. The veteran defender will miss the team’s Week 16 game against the Chargers. Missing Sunday’s game would be another setback for Fairbairn, who began the season in Week 4 after an IR placement in September.

Texans Waive K Joey Slye

Joey Slye‘s initial stint as the Texans’ kicker will end after three games. The Texans waived the young specialist Thursday, clearing the way for Ka’imi Fairbairn‘s return.

Houston stashed Fairbairn on IR to start the season. After three games, the team designated its longtime kicker to return. Fairbairn, who has been the Texans’ kicker since 2017, suffered a hamstring injury while warming up for Houston’s preseason finale.

The Texans picked up Slye shortly after the Panthers waived him. Slye is 4-for-5 in field goals to start his third season and 7-for-8 on extra points. The Panthers cut him to go with trade acquisition Ryan Santoso, but the team moved on from Santoso after one game. Zane Gonzalez currently serves as Carolina’s kicker.

Should Slye pass through waivers unclaimed, he could return to Houston’s practice squad. While only six teams currently carry an extra kicker on their taxi squad, the Texans opted for this strategy to start the season. The Texans initially added Slye on a P-squad deal before promoting him ahead of Week 1, though they did so knowing Fairbairn was set to miss time.