Texans Rumors

Fritz Pollard Alliance Concerned By Texans’ GM Search

The Texans clearly wanted to hire Patriots executive Nick Caserio as their next GM, but they abandoned their pursuit shortly after New England filed tampering charges against them. Now, it seems that Houston will go through the 2019 season and the 2020 draft without a GM and renew its pursuit of Caserio after next year’s draft, when Caserio’s contract with the Pats expires.

However, after the Texans fired one-year GM Brian Gaine and before they stopped pursuing Caserio, they interviewed Ray Farmer and Martin Mayhew for the job. Both Farmer and Mayhew are minority candidates, but because the team chose not to fill the position after it could not land its first choice, the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s new executive director, Rod Graves, believes Houston may have violated the spirit of the Rooney Rule.

Graves said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, “[t]he fact that [the Texans] interviewed two outstanding candidates and chose not to make a decision after not being able to get their first choice, to me is a concern in the fact that it does circumvent the spirit of the Rooney Rule. And if there are other reasons why those candidates are not appealing, then we’d like to know how we can help to possibly bring others to the table. I think there are many others out there who are qualified and who deserve an opportunity to be interviewed.”

To call Mayhew and Farmer “outstanding candidates” is a bit of a stretch, as both men come with plenty of question marks given their spotty track record as general managers with the Lions and Browns, respectively (and in the case of Farmer, the track record is not spotty; it’s just one big spot). Caserio, meanwhile, is unproven, but he is well-regarded around the league and is seen as the type of young and progressive mind that clubs are targeting for their coaching staffs and front offices these days, so it makes sense that Houston would want to bring him aboard.

As such, the debate concerning the Rooney Rule rages on. Should a team be penalized for aggressively pursuing and hiring its top target if the top target isn’t a minority? In this case, should the Texans be compelled to hire a Plan B if they still have a legitimate chance to land their Plan A? The answer to both of those questions would seem to be “no,” but then again, it also doesn’t seem right to interview minority candidates when the interviewing team has no intention of hiring them.

If you have a resolution to this debate, feel free to leave it in the comments.

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Latest On Texans, Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans did not come to terms on a long-term pact prior to yesterday’s deadline, which means that Clowney will need to sign his franchise tender at some point and wait until next year to try to get his mega-deal. And according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (video link), Clowney is, as expected, shooting for a contract in line with those that other top pass rushers have signed this year, if not higher.

In other words, he is eyeing Frank Clark‘s five-year, $104.8MM deal with the Chiefs and Demarcus Lawrence‘s five-year, $105MM deal with the Cowboys as a baseline, but Schefter says that Houston has thus far been unwilling to match those contracts, let alone exceed them. It’s unclear just how far apart the two sides were when the deadline passed, but Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com suggests that the Texans are equally unlikely to pay market value for Clowney next year, even if he continues performing at a Pro Bowl level.

In Barshop’s estimation, that is a mistake. The advanced metrics loved Clowney in 2018, and although he has not yet tallied a double-digit sack campaign, he is a fearsome pass rusher and often absorbs double-teams as a result. He and J.J. Watt complement each other quite well in that regard, and Clowney is a talented run stopper as well. He has every reason to ask for a contract paying him at least $20MM per year, but if he gets it, it apparently won’t be from Houston.

We heard a few months ago that Clowney could be a trade candidate, but Schefter says there has been little interest around the league in trading for the former No. 1 overall pick. Interestingly, Schefter says the Texans would like to keep Clowney long-term, which doesn’t necessarily jibe with recent reports indicating that head coach and de facto GM Bill O’Brien is perfectly content going year-to-year with one of his biggest stars.

Barshop says the fact that Watt is making “only” $16.7MM per season could complicate matters, because if Clowney lands a $20MM+/year deal, Watt may want to revisit his own contract. The team will also need to pay Deshaun Watson big money soon, though Bashop notes that the Texans have enough cap space to keep everyone content. They just seem to have reservations about making a lengthy commitment to Clowney.

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This Date In Transactions History: Tony Boselli Retires

On this date in 2003, one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the history of the game called it a career. Tackle Tony Boselli, the first ever draft pick of the Jaguars, retired at the age of 31. 

Soon after being drafted with the No. 2 pick in the 1995 draft, Boselli established himself as one of the best players in Jacksonville. He earned five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 1996-2000 with three First-Team All-Pro selections coming in 97-99. The Jaguars reached the postseason in four of their first five seasons in existence, and Boselli played a huge role in their success.

Unfortunately, injuries started to chip away at Boselli in 2001 and he appeared in only three games that season. In February 2002, the Jaguars made Boselli one of their five exposed players for the Texans’ expansion draft. With the very first pick, Houston took on Boselli’s $6.883MM cap figure, but they did not get the All-Pro they were expecting.

I am retiring because of medical reasons, specifically my left shoulder, which did not continue to improve to the point where I could play,” said Boselli as he announced his retirement.

Boselli’s career was relatively short, but highly impactful. In seven seasons with the Jaguars, Boselli allowed only 15.5 sacks and cemented his legacy as one of the Jaguars’ most important players of all-time.

Boselli signed a one-day deal to retire with the Jaguars in 2006 and became the first inductee into the team’s Hall of Fame. Still, the football Hall of Fame eludes him. In 2019, Boselli was denied entry in his 13th year of eligibility and his third year as a finalist.

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NFLPA To File Grievance Against Texans

As members of the 2016 draft begin to sign extensions, 2014’s No. 1 overall pick is set to play yet another season without a long-term deal. And there will now be drama over Jadeveon Clowney‘s 2019 salary.

The NFLPA is expected to file a grievance against the Texans regarding Clowney’s franchise tag figure, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Texans tagged Clowney as a linebacker, and that price comes in at $15.967MM — $1.698MM less than Clowney would have received on the defensive end tag.

The Texans paid Clowney just more than $1MM this year to resolve a dispute about his position as it related to his 2018 fifth-year option salary. Houston uses a 3-4 defense and deploys Clowney as a stand-up linebacker in base sets, but the college defensive lineman spends more time in three-point stances in sub-packages as a pro. The defensive line-linebacker split was roughly 60-40 in favor of a D-line role, Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson tweets.

This has turned into quite the year for the Texans, who also fired their GM — one who was on board with a Clowney extension — and will not replace him until 2020. Clowney has hovered in extension limbo with the Texans for well over a year. Now, more back-and-forth will likely commence between he and the team that took him first overall five years ago.

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No Deal For Texans, Jadeveon Clowney

The 3pm CT deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extension came and went without a Jadeveon Clowney deal. He will play this season for $15.967MM.

While no agreement was expected, Clowney is now in a strange spot. The former No. 1 overall pick has been extension-eligible since January 2017 yet will play a sixth season without a long-term extension in place. As a result, the Texans should not expect to see him for a while.

Clowney is unlikely to show for “a good portion” of training camp, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweeting the Pro Bowl edge defender may not resurface in Texans gear until September. But he is expected to report before the Texans’ Sept. 9 opener against the Saints, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports.

As was the case with Le’Veon Bell last year, Clowney is going into his sixth season and has already accrued enough service time to be an unrestricted free agent. So, the August 6 reporting date will not affect the 26-year-old’s potential UFA path.

A reported disagreement between Bill O’Brien and since-fired GM Brian Gaine on Clowney’s value existed, with O’Brien being against a long-term deal for the former South Carolina prodigy. The Texans are going without a GM this season, but their reshuffled front office will have to deal with a disgruntled standout — one the team shopped in trades this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Lawrence, Mumphery, Packers

If it’s too early to think about the 2020 NFL Draft, then it’s definitely too early to think about the 2021 draft. Still, that’s not stopping those in the football world from daydreaming about Trevor Lawrence and his potential.

There’s nothing he can’t do,” said former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer when asked about the Clemson quarterback (via The MMQB). “The only question is if he’ll continue to do it. It’s hard to temper your excitement, because he checks every single box. Confidence, intelligence, athleticism, smarts, twitch, arm strength, power—you go through all the boxes, he’s nines or 10s. It’s like Andrew Luck.”

Lawrence, who has been termed “perfect” by mechanics coach Jordan Palmer, likely would’ve been the first pick in either this year’s draft or the 2020 draft, if he were eligible. If he declares after his true junior season at Clemson, he’s expected to be the slam dunk No. 1 pick in 2021.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Wide receiver Keith Mumphery received $725K from Michigan State in a lawsuit settlement, as Paula Lavigne of ESPN.com writes. Mumphery was cut by the Texans in 2017 after reports surfaced that he had been banned from campus following a sexual assault accusation. Mumphery always insisted he was falsely accused, and sued Michigan State for his lost wages. The settlement will help him recoup some of those potential earnings and may help his cause as he tries to mount an NFL comeback.
  • After a disappointing season and significant spending spree, the Packers‘ profits have dropped dramatically (via The Associated Press). The good news, however, is that the Packers still turned a profit after re-signing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and signing linebacker Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and guard Billy Smith. Ultimately, it’s an indication that the Packers are in good fiscal standing despite being a small market team.

Texans Won’t Hire GM For 2019

For now, the Texans’ GM job will remain vacant, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Rather than hiring a GM for 2019, the Texans will divvy up the responsibilities among Matt Bazirgan, James Liipfert, Chris Olsen and Jack Easterby.

The Texans fired Brian Gaine earlier this summer in an attempt to quickly replace him with Patriots executive Nick Caserio. The Patriots blocked the move and accused Easterby of tampering with the under-contract employee at the Pats’ ring ceremony.

The inclusion of Easterby in the Texans’ upper management is noteworthy and a bit surprising. Easterby previously served as the Patriots’ chaplain before earning the title of Executive Vice President of Team Development in Houston. Now, it appears that he is wielding more influence than ever.

It has been widely speculated that the Texans are simply biding their time until Caserio’s contract with New England expires. Still, there’s a long way to go between now and the 2020 offseason and things can always change.

NFL Supplemental Draft Order

The NFL’s Supplemental Draft order does not go by the inverted win/loss records of clubs. Instead, the order is dictated by a weighted lottery that uses a team’s win percentage as just part of the equation. Here, via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) is the complete order of the supplemental draft:

1. Lions
2. Broncos
3. Jets
4. Cardinals
5. Giants
6. Bills
7. Raiders
8. 49ers
9. Jaguars
10. Packers
11. Bengals
12. Bucs
13. Falcons
14. Vikings
15. Redskins
16. Titans
17. Dolphins
18. Steelers
19. Panthers
20. Browns
21. Ravens
22. Patriots
24. Seahawks
25. Eagles
26. Texans
27. Bears
28. Colts
29. Saints
30. Chiefs
31. Chargers
32. Rams

The supplemental draft is conducted via email. If multiple teams submit a pick for the same player in the same round, this order dictates which club gets the player. Of course, any team picking a player in the supplemental draft will sacrifice the corresponding pick in the 2020 draft.

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Latest On Jalen Thompson, Supplemental Draft

There are five known entrants for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft on Wednesday afternoon, but Jalen Thompson of Washington State is expected to be the only player selected, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com hears. 

The defensive back has impressed on both a football level and personal level, making him a strong candidate to be picked. Based on Pauline’s conversations over the last two days, teams seem to view him as a fourth or fifth-round talent who will likely be swiped off the board in the sixth or seventh round.

So far, the Packers, Texans, and Arizona have shown the most interest in Thompson, Pauline hears. As previously reported, the Packers watched Thompson work out and flew him to Green Bay afterwards. The Texans, meanwhile, could use some safety help after failing to address the need in April’s draft. The Cardinals could also use some reinforcements in that area, but it’s not clear if they’ll add another prospect after tapping Deionte Thompson in the fifth round.

For what it’s worth, some in Arizona’s front office see Jalen Thompson as a better prospect than Deionte Thompson, Pauline hears. If J. Thompson is on the board after the fifth round, Pauline expects the Cardinals to place a bid.

The supplemental draft will take place at 1pm ET/noon CT on Wednesday.

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Fired Texans GM Wanted To Extend Jadeveon Clowney, Bill O’Brien Didn’t

We heard earlier today that the Texans won’t be extending Jadeveon Clowney. The two sides aren’t going to reach a deal before the July 15th deadline, and Clowney will play the 2019 season under the franchise tag. 

After firing Brian Gaine and failing in their attempt to hire Nick Caserio away from the Patriots, the Texans were left without a general manager. It’s been unclear who is running things in the front office, although now we have a little more clarity that it’s head coach Bill O’Brien. Gaine and O’Brien “disagreed on whether to make a long-term commitment to” Clowney, a source told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

There was a report right after Gaine was fired that his handling of the Clowney situation was partially responsible for his termination, but that suggested that Gaine was fired for not making progress on an extension. Now it seems like the opposite is true, and that it was Gaine who wanted to extend him all along.

Word leaking out that a head coach opposes a contract extension for a current player is sure to make things awkward in the locker room, and makes it more likely that this is Clowney’s last season with the team. The Texans are widely expected to make another run at Caserio once his contract expires following the 2020 draft, but they’ll need to make a decision on Clowney before then when free agency opens in March. O’Brien is likely to still be running the show then, and he clearly is hesitant to commit to Clowney for the future.

The first overall pick back in 2014, Clowney has blossomed into a great player, but the Texans don’t want to break the bank for him. A Pro Bowler each of the last three seasons, Clowney is likely looking to reset the market for pass-rushers yet again, and he’s been staying away from the team’s offseason activities while he held out for a new deal. The report from earlier today indicated he might miss a solid chunk of training camp, but that he’s expected to show up in time for the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.