Tytus Howard

AFC Restructures: Howard, Mason, Wilson

The Texans front office did some work recently to help with their cap situation. The bigger of their two recent moves saw them address the contract of veteran offensive tackle Tytus Howard, per Field Yates of ESPN.

Howard agreed to a restructured contract in which Houston converted $12.88MM of his 2024 base salary (originally worth $14MM) into a signing bonus. The Texans also added two void years onto the end of his existing deal. The adjustments to his contract resulted in the clearance of $10.3MM of cap space for Houston.

Here are a few other restructured deals seen recently around the AFC:

  • Houston also adjusted the contract of fellow offensive lineman Shaq Mason, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2. The new deal saw the Texans convert $8.04MM of Mason’s 2024 base salary (originally worth $9.25MM) into a signing bonus while, once again, adding two voidable years to the end of the contract. The resulting changes added an additional $6.4MM to Houston’s salary cap space.
  • Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald informed us that a restructured deal was also underway for Patriots cornerback Marco Wilson. The new contract is a one-year, $1.2MM deal with $600K of guaranteed money, including a $300K signing bonus. The restructure results in approximately $750K of additional cap space for New England. Wilson’s new deal also contains a $200K workout bonus, $500K in potential per game active roster bonuses, $416K in incentives that are likely to be earned, and $750K in incentives classified as not likely to be earned.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/29/23

Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Tennessee Titans

After missing the Cardinals’ last six games on injured reserve, Wilkinson is now on track to return to his starting left guard post this season. Arizona has used a mixture of Trystan Colon and Carter O’Donnell to fill the spot in the interim.

King found his way to the Texans’ practice squad after being waived by the Steelers and was elevated to game action last week. After starting 25 games for Houston in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, King will be a welcome addition back to the active roster.

Hardee has missed six games with a hamstring injury. The Pro Bowl special teamer returned to practice today alongside quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Schweitzer. Schweitzer was one of several offensive linemen in New York who sustained injuries earlier this year, but after missing the four games required of an IR stint, Schweitzer is working to return, as well.

Texans’ Tytus Howard Out For Season

The Texans made Tytus Howard a key component of their offseason, handing the fifth-year offensive lineman a lucrative extension. The resurgent team will not see the former first-round pick finish out the season.

After suffering a knee injury in Week 12, Howard is expected to miss the rest of the season, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Tests have revealed Howard will need surgery. Howard did well to secure a high-end contract this summer, but this represents a blow to a Texans O-line that has already absorbed a few this year. Specifically, Howard has battled a patellar tendon issue for the past few weeks, with KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson adding the injury worsened Sunday.

Houston began the season without Howard, placing its starting right tackle on IR to start the season. Howard had undergone hand surgery. But the Texans used one of their IR activations on the 2019 draftee. Having signed George Fant in the wake of Howard’s hand injury, the Texans slid Howard to guard — a position he played at points during his rookie contract. The team has already lost three interior O-linemen — including guard starter Kenyon Green, a 2022 first-rounder — for the season. Howard joining that list doubles as the biggest blow this battered unit has sustained.

Houston is committed to Howard, who has played a few positions over the course of his career. The team gave Howard a three-year, $56MM accord. That pact came with $36MM guaranteed at signing. The Texans had drafted the Division I-FCS product during Brian Gaine‘s short run as GM, but Nick Caserio made him part of an offseason O-line blueprint. The Texans extended Laremy Tunsil and gave Shaq Mason a new deal after trading for him. The O-line fortifications have helped C.J. Stroud rocket to the Offensive Rookie of the Year lead and have played a major role in the No. 2 overall pick elevate into the MVP race.

In addition to Kenyon Green, the Texans have lost Scott Quessenberry — their primary 2022 center starter — and late-summer trade pickup Kendrick Green for the season. The team activated second-round pick Juice Scruggs just last week; the Penn State alum had missed nearly three months due to a hamstring injury sustained during the team’s preseason finale. Rookie Jarrett Patterson, who has been Houston’s primary center this season, is also on IR.

Pro Football Focus has viewed Howard’s move back to guard as a somewhat challenging odyssey, slotting him 69th at the position. Months before the Texans traded for Tunsil, they drafted Howard to play right tackle. Howard began his career there but played 10 games at guard to open the 2021 season. He then upped his stock by faring well replacing Tunsil at left tackle. Tunsil’s 2022 return slid Howard back to right tackle, and he played well enough to earn a top-five RT contract. At guard, Howard’s $18.6MM-per-year deal ranks third overall.

With Fant on a one-year contract, Howard may well be back at right tackle by the time he is healthy again. For now, Tunsil and Fant remain at tackle. Scruggs replaced Howard at right guard against the Jaguars, with free agent signing Michael Deiter remaining at center. After Scruggs missed 10 games to start his career, the No. 62 overall pick may be set to start his first game — at a position he was not drafted to play. The Texans also have trade acquisition Josh Jones, who has played both tackle and guard as a pro, as an option opposite Mason.

Texans Designate Tytus Howard For Return, Place Kendrick Green On IR; Howard To Play Left Guard

OCTOBER 8: The Texans will indeed have Howard and Tunsil back in the lineup for today’s game against the Falcons, per Rapoport. However, as Wilson reports, Howard will be returning to the interior of the line and will slot in at left guard. Earlier in the week, Wilson published a full-length article discussing the possbility of that alignment and noted that the presence of George Fant, who has played well at right tackle in Howard’s absence, could allow Fant to stay right where he is.

It is unclear if Howard at LG and Fant at RT will be a permanent arrangement, but if they perform at a high level today, it will be difficult for head coach DeMeco Ryans to make a change in that regard.

OCTOBER 5: Kendrick Green will not join Howard and Scruggs in the IR-return picture. The recent trade acquisition underwent meniscus surgery that is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes. While Green did not suffer any ligament tears and is in line to be ready for Houston’s offseason program, he will head into a contract year coming having played in just four games over the past two seasons.

OCTOBER 4: The Texans have seen C.J. Stroud show considerable promise early in his rookie season, and the No. 2 overall pick has done so behind a backup-laden offensive line. That group is beginning to move toward full strength.

As expected, the Texans designated Tytus Howard to return from IR on Wednesday. Today marks the start of most teams’ pre-Week 5 practices. With this week doubling as the first for players on IR, NFI and PUP lists to be designated for return, Howard is one of several recovering performers to see his 21-day activation clock started.

Howard broke his hand in two places early in training camp and underwent surgery. He joined center Juice Scruggs and guard Kenyon Green in being placed on IR. Scruggs remains on Houston’s injured list, but a potential Week 6 return is in play for the second-round rookie. Green is out for the season, being placed on IR before teams finalized their initial 53-man rosters. While the 2022 first-round pick was part of the Texans’ O-line plans, he will need months to recover. Howard and Scruggs, however, are on the road back to action.

Houston gave Howard a three-year, $56MM extension this offseason. That deal followed pacts for Laremy Tunsil and trade acquisition Shaq Mason. The latter has been the only healthy Houston first-stringer up front. Howard, a five-year starter who has settled in at right tackle after being tried at guard and on the blind side, may well be back in uniform by Week 5. Tunsil has a decent chance of coming back as well. The eighth-year left tackle has missed the past three games, but Tunsil returned to practice Wednesday. Optimism exists the high-priced edge protector will be back in place Sunday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes.

While starters are preparing to return, the Texans did sustain another blow up front. Kendrick Green is now on IR, the team announced. The late-summer trade acquisition suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee in Week 4, per Wilson, who adds surgery is likely. Green avoided ligament tears, but he must now miss at least four games.

The former Steelers third-round pick had been pressed into duty, starting the past three games. Those not only marked Green’s first starts since his rookie year but also his first appearances since that 2021 season. Adding multiple new interior O-line starters in 2022, Pittsburgh benched the interior O-lineman and unloaded him a year later. Pro Football Focus ranks Green 38th at guard thus far, showing a glimpse at improvement after a rough rookie year.

Teams are allotted eight IR activations per season. Howard will join punter Cameron Johnston, whom the team also designated for return, as two activations. Scruggs is set to take up a third slot for the Texans, who have started 2-2 behind strong early-season play from Stroud.

Texans Activate T Tytus Howard, P Cameron Johnston

After designating the two players to return from injured reserve this week, the Texans have announced that they have officially activated offensive tackle Tytus Howard and punter Cameron Johnston from IR. After starting the regular season on the injured list, both players are reportedly ready to make their 2023 debut.

Howard missed the first four games of the season due to a training camp hand injury that required surgery to fix breaks in two places. He’s been a full-time starter for Houston since getting drafted in the first round in 2019, missing games here and there due to various injuries. To date, he’s started in 54 of a possible 70 games. He’ll look to step in for George Fant across from Laremy Tunsil this week.

Johnston likewise has missed time due to a preseason injury after pulling a calf muscle in late-August. Ty Zentner, an undrafted rookie out of Kansas State, had been fulfilling the punting duties in Johnston’s absence before being waived early in the week.

Additionally, the Texans announced that they have released defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth from their practice squad. The move was necessary after the team released defensive end Derek Rivers from the active roster yesterday and signed him to the practice squad.

Finally, with this weekend’s contest in Atlanta coming up, the team announced that they will be calling up cornerback D’Angelo Ross and linebacker Garret Wallow as standard gameday elevations from the practice squad for tomorrow. Ross will be seeing his first action since making an appearance in the 2021-22 playoffs for the Patriots. This will also be Wallow’s first game of the season, as well, after starting five games over his first two years in the league.

Texans Designate Cameron Johnston For Return; Tytus Howard Moving Toward Debut

Texans punter normalcy looks likely to return this week. On IR for the season’s first four games, Cameron Johnston is on track to come back for Week 5.

Houston waived its replacement punter, Ty Zentner, on Monday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reports. With no punters on the active roster or practice squad as a result of this transaction, the Texans are also designating Johnston to return from IR. Johnston’s return to practice will start his 21-day activation clock, but Monday’s other Houston punter transaction points to a quick ramp-up period coming.

A calf injury has sidelined Johnston, who has been the Texans’ primary punter since 2021. The ex-Eagles specialist is tied to a three-year, $8MM deal. This will be Johnston’s sixth year as an NFL punter. The 31-year-old Australian had never missed a game during his career prior to this calf injury.

Johnston averaged 48.1 yards per punt last season. A Kansas State alum, Zentner sits at 42.1 through four games. The Texans signed Zentner as Johnston insurance in late August. The rookie UDFA, who also came to Houston after a Philadelphia stint, will become a free agent if he goes unclaimed.

Houston will be preparing to use some of its eight allotted IR activations early. Right tackle Tytus Howard is on track to be activated from IR this week, Wilson adds. Howard broke his hand in two places and underwent surgery in August. The Texans have played without four starting O-linemen at points this season, with Laremy Tunsil missing extensive time as well. The NFL’s O-line salary kingpin has a chance to return this week, per Wilson.

The Texans, who placed 2022 first-round guard Kenyon Green on season-ending IR in August, have both Howard and second-round pick Juice Scruggs on short-term IR. The team’s projected center starter, Scruggs is out with a hamstring injury. He is tracking toward returning by Week 6, however. But the Texans could soon have both their tackles back to project promising rookie C.J. Stroud.

Latest On Texans’ Offensive Line Injuries

The Texans have been dealing with a number of injuries on their offensive line, but the team is set to return a number of key players over the next few weeks. Per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston, Tytus Howard is set to be activated from injured reserve before Week 5. Wilson also notes that center Juice Scruggs should return by Week 6 at the latest.

Howard broke his hand during training camp, leading to his placement on IR before Week 1. The offensive tackle has reportedly made great progress and should return to practice next week. Howard has been a mainstay on the Texans offensive line since he was selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, starting all 54 of his appearances. Pro Football Focus has generally graded him as an average-to-above average offensive tackle, with the site giving him particularly high marks for his pass-blocking ability.

Scruggs was expected to slide into the starting role when Scott Quessenberry went down with a torn ACL and MCL. However, the rookie second-round suffered a hamstring injury that required a stint on the injured reserve. Wilson notes that the lineman could return as early as next week against the Falcons.

Thanks to all the injuries, the Texans have been forced to rely on a number of backup linemen. Veteran George Fant has been thrust into the starting lineup with Howard sidelined, and rookie Jarrett Patterson has started all three games at center in place of Scruggs. Predictably, the results haven’t been pretty, as the Texans offensive line has allowed 11 sacks and has contributed to a league-worst 2.8 yards per carry.

Unfortunately for Houston, it’s going to get a bit tougher before it gets easier. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is set to miss another game while dealing with a knee injury, and potential fill-in Josh Jones won’t play in Week 4 thanks to a hand injury. As a result, the team is preparing practice-squad lineman Austin Deculus to be the starting LT on Sunday against the Steelers, per Wilson.

Texans Place RT Tytus Howard On IR

Tytus Howard appeared to be nearing a return to full health which would have allowed him to miss minimal game time. Instead, he will now be shut down for at least the first month of the season.

The Texans announced on Wednesday that their right tackle starter has been placed on injured reserve, a move which guarantees a four-week absence. The news comes as a surprise considering the progress Howard had been making; he was expected to miss the regular season opener, but not much (if any) time beyond that while recovering from surgery on a broken hand.

Howard, 27, underwent the procedure on August 7, and was given a four-to-six week return timetable. That seemed to leave the door open to a potential Week 1 return (or one taking place shortly thereafter), but the team will proceed with caution. The Texans signed Howard to a three-year, $56MM extension not long before the injury, confirming that he will be mainstay on the team’s O-line for the foreseeable future.

That deal was one of many Houston worked out over the course of the offseason aimed at ensuring stability at the tackle spots and boosting the offensive front as a whole. The unit suffered a major blow with 2022 first-round guard Kenyon Green being shut down for the season with a shoulder injury, though. Howard’s absence through September will leave the Texans particularly shorthanded along the O-line.

The team will have an experienced fill-in option, however. George Fant, who was signed in late July, will operate as a starter at the RT spot. Fant signed a one-year deal worth up to $4MM, and he will now have the opportunity to prove his worth over an extended stretch. The 31-year-old has 60 starts to his name, including 36 from his three-year Jets stint which preceded his Texans signing. Fant will join trade acquisition Josh Jones as a backup thrust into first-team duties when Houston begins the campaign in Baltimore on Sunday.

OL Notes: Smith, Texans, Rams, Bears

The Cowboys are going with a “best five” configuration up front, shifting course months after Jerry Jones discussed a plan of keeping Tyler Smith at tackle. Smith is back at guard, but he may not be a lock to start the season on time. The second-year blocker suffered a hamstring strain, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Jones expects Smith to play in Week 1; the 2022 first-round pick did not miss a game last season. Dallas has lost its starting left guard in free agency in each of the past two offseasons, seeing Connor Williams and Connor McGovern defect to the AFC East.

One of the backup options, Josh Ball, is on IR. Ball is battling hip and groin pain, and the Morning News’ Michael Gehlken notes he is expected to miss around two months. A 2021 fourth-rounder, Ball is not expected to need surgery. The Cowboys kept eight O-linemen, with rookies Asim Richards and T.J. Bass joining Chuma Edoga as backups.

Here is the latest from NFL O-lines:

  • Texans right tackle Tytus Howard returned to practice earlier this week, working out with a cast on his injured left hand. While the fifth-year lineman is on the verge of returning, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes George Fant is expected to play in place of Howard in Week 1. Howard, who signed a Texans extension in July, underwent surgery to repair a broken hand in early August. Fant worked as a regular Jets starter — at left and right tackle — throughout the 2020 and ’21 seasons; injuries limited him to seven games last year.
  • Josh Jones filled in for D.J. Humphries as the Cardinals’ left tackle last season, but the recently traded blocker is back at guard. The Texans have Jones in place as their starting left guard going into the season, Wilson tweets. Jones is replacing 2022 first-rounder Kenyon Green, who is on season-ending IR. Jones spent the 2021 season as a primary Cardinals starting guard. The Texans will also be without center Juice Scruggs to start the season; the second-rounder is on short-term IR with a hamstring injury.
  • The Rams gave Joseph Noteboom a three-year, $40MM deal to replace Andrew Whitworth in 2022, but after another season-ending injury, Whitworth’s would-be heir apparent lost his job. The Rams are going with Alaric Jackson at left tackle, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, who adds Noteboom is back at guard (subscription required). Noteboom worked at guard early in his career and was mentioned as a guard option this offseason, but he had played on the outside since becoming Los Angeles’ swing tackle in 2020. The Rams also added Kevin Dotson from the Steelers, and while Dotson has started 30 career games (including 17 last year), Rodrigue adds the team views him as a depth piece. A former UDFA, Jackson started six games last season before becoming one of the many Ram blockers forced off the field due to health issues. Blood clots ended Jackson’s 2022 slate.
  • Previously set to shift back to center, Cody Whitehair is at guard to start his eighth Bears season. Teven Jenkins‘ injury will shift Whitehair to left guard and Lucas Patrick to center, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Recent trade acquisition Dan Feeney is in place as Chicago’s backup center. Jenkins is on IR to start the season. Whitehair spent the past four seasons at guard but began his career with three slates at center. Patrick has played both guard and center. The 2022 free agency addition was ticketed to start at center last season, but injuries limited the ex-Packer to seven games.

Steelers To Trade Kendrick Green To Texans

The Texans have been busy fortifying their offensive line this summer. After signing George Fant and trading for Josh Jones, Houston has another deal in place.

Kendrick Green will move from the Steelers to the Texans, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. The Steelers have now shipped out two former starters this week, moving Kevin Dotson to the Rams on Sunday and now sending Green to the Texans. A former Steelers center starter, Green has been unable to impress in Pittsburgh.

Two years remain on the former third-round pick’s rookie contract. The Steelers have made several free agency moves along their O-line over the past two offseasons. These affected Green’s standing with the organization. He will now have another chance elsewhere. The Texans will send the Steelers a 2025 sixth-round pick for Green, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Enjoying a healthy season along their offensive front, the Steelers did not use Green at all in 2022. The team had inserted Green as its starting center during Ben Roethlisberger‘s finale, but the Illinois product struggled as a rookie. Pittsburgh then signed Mason Cole in 2022, demoting Green. The Steelers have tried Green at guard and even fullback — for a brief period during this year’s training camp — but are cutting bait.

Green will join a Texans team that has run into some injury trouble on its interior O-line. Center Scott Quessenberry landed on IR earlier this summer, while KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes second-round rookie Juice Scruggs suffered a strained hamstring against the Saints. Second-year guard Kenyon Green is also battling a shoulder injury, with Wilson adding the 2022 first-round pick is dealing with multiple maladies.

This helps explain the Kendrick Green move, but Kenyon Green’s issue may cost the latter regular-season time. The 2022 draftee will undergo an MRI to determine if an IR stint is necessary to start the season, per Wilson. The Texans are already without right tackle Tytus Howard, with Wilson adding the former first-round pick is not certain to be back for the team’s opener. Fant is in place at right tackle sans Howard, with Michael Deiter in place of Kenyon Green presently. Among Houston O-linemen, only Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason are firmly on track to start the season on time.