Over the past month the Houston Texans have made a lot of unique moves when dealing with their roster and managing their salary cap situation.
When the Texans approached free agency they had cap issues after moves last season that came back to bite them. When GM Rick Smith signed Johnathan Joseph and Daniel Manning last season it was under the impression that the salary cap would be raised as discussed in the new CBA. It was raised, but only by a few hundred-thousand.
So going into this season reports were that the Texans were around $20 million over the cap. Everyone knew with all the free agents the Texans had this season that there would be no way to bring them all back.
Some of the names that were thrown around to be released were players like Jacoby Jones and Matt Leinart. Demeco Ryans and Owen Daniels were also mentioned for contract restructuring.
All of this was thrown around in an effort to bring back defensive lineman Mario Williams and center Chris Myers, after running back Arian Foster was given his big long-term deal. Many suspected that it was a given that the Texans would not be able to retain Williams and make him anything close to being the highest-paid defensive player in history. Retaining Chris Myers seemed to make the most sense because having Foster requires having a solid offensive line.
Problems would soon ensue.
The Texans unexpectedly cut starting offensive lineman in Eric Winston, for cap reasons. With offensive tackle Rashad Butler, the Texans figured they had a better low-cost option on the line. Winston would later sign with the Kansas City Chiefs for a more lucrative contract than what the Texans could pay him.
The move was also used as a sacrifice to create cap space to bring back Myers. But why is Jones still on the roster when releasing him would have created the same cap room that was created when releasing Winston?
The line was great because they have played together so long. Smith would then trade former Defensive Rookie of the year and two-time Pro Bowler Demeco Ryans to Philadelphia.
This move saved the same cap space that also would have been created in releasing Jones. They justify letting go of Ryans because he played one-third of the downs in Wade Philips's system.
At least the Texans got a draft pick out of losing Ryans. Winston could have been traded, as well, instead of being released. The Texans could have at least got a draft pick out of Winston.
Smith has proven to be a good judge of talent when it comes to the NFL Draft. He found Williams, Ryans, Winston, and a host of other talented players.
Smith can still strengthen the squad in the draft, following the departure of recent and notable free agents.
It is too early to panic. However, it's odd that the Texans are cutting players, rather than trading them, and why they haven't used their franchise tag on anyone.
The Texans still have plenty of time to make changes, and Smith deserves the benefit of the doubt that he can fix some of his mistakes.