The current state of the Texans’ salary cap in 2022
While your Houston Texans hold a high draft pick in the NFL Draft For the first time in what seems like ever, the team’s salary cap situation is still a bit inflated. The NFL’s salary cap in 2022 is expected to reach $208.2 million. Cap tracking site Spotrac has the Texans sitting 15th place cap available right now with $23.6 million. For a team that is utterly lacking in talent across the board, that’s not a ton of space to sign new players.
Biggest Texans salary caps: Deshaun Watson $40.4M, Laremy Tunsil $26.153M, Brandin Cooks $16.235M, Zach Cunningham $12.832M, Eric Murray $7M, Whitney Mercilus $7M, Shaq Lawson 5.275M $, Marcus Cannon $5.2M, Bradley Roby $4.79M, Ka’imi Fairbairn $4.3M, Randall Cobb $3.5M
—Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) January 17, 2022
But there’s still a lot of wiggle room that can be made, and the status of these three contracts could have an impact:
- Deshaun Watson (represents $40.4 million of current cap)
- Laremy Tunsil (represents $26.1 million of current cap)
- Brandin Cooks (represents $16.2 million of current cap)
While Nick Caserio can still do something about those three contracts, which equate to $82.7 million or 39.7% of the Texans’ projected cap space, there’s nothing he can do to drag the contracts. The following, all of which will affect Houston’s salary cap in 2022. Although the players are no longer Texans, have on the team’s financial situation:
- Zach Cunningham (represents $12.8 million of current cap)
- Whitney Mercilus (represents $7 million of current cap)
- Shaq Lawson (represents $5.2 million of current cap)
- Bradley Roby (represents $4.8 million of current cap)
- Randall Cobb (represents $3.5 million of current cap)
That’s $33.3 million, or 15.99% of the 2022 cap, paid out to five players who are no longer on the team.
So what can Caserio do if he hopes to convince Brian Flores, Jarod Mayo, Joe Lombardi, Jonathan Gannon or anyone else he intends to interview for the opening head coaching job to take the concert?
The Texans have requested permission to interview Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon for their HC work, per source. Gannon has now been asked to interview for three HC vacancies: Texans, Broncos, Vikings.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2022
Well, Deshaun Watson’s potential trade is a showpiece in itself. Having another team take on Watson’s contract as it stands would be ideal. Watson’s fully guaranteed money goes into effect March 20, which will hit Houston’s cap of $35 million if they haven’t traded Watson by then. $5 million isn’t a big difference, but every little bit counts. Preferably, the Texans trade Watson before then and take a smaller hit, more likely in the $10 million range.
Next up is Laremy Tunsil’s insane deal brokered by former head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien and Jack Easterby. the franchise tag number for an offensive lineman in 2022, projects at $16.6 million on the high end, making Tunsil an overpriced blind protection worth $10 million. Can Caserio revamp the Tunsil deal into something more logical? With rumors circulating that Houston put Tunsil on the ice for the end of the 2021 season so they could trade him this offseason, chances are some of his $26 million will be dead money on the 2022 cap, like Cunningham and Mercilus.
Next we have Brandin Cooks. His price is actually in line with that of a franchise-marked wide receiver, and he’s definitely Houston’s best asset on the offensive end of the ball. Can Nick revamp Cooks’ deal and convert some of it into bonuses or future year income to cut 22’s hit? May be.
After that, things go downhill pretty quickly.
Caserio signed nearly every veteran free agent linebacker last season in the biggest free agent haul in franchise history. Luckily, most of them were one- or two-year deals that will expire at the end of the league year. The two-year deals are likely structured so that Caserio can cancel them without Houston experiencing a significant cap.
Without Watson’s $35 million and Tunsil’s $26 million on the books, tens of millions could potentially be released. Add that to the current projection of $23.6 million and the Texans are sitting well with north of $75 million to spend on free agents.
The last time they had that kind of draft and free agent capital, Bill O’Brien and former general manager Brian Gaine fucked the proverbial dog with it, which may have led to the sudden promotion. de Gaine to the rank of fan.
Hopefully Caserio, (insert new head coach here) and Easterby can do better this time around. In the meantime, we can always console ourselves with this:
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