HOUSTON – The Houston Texans are talking about “meat-and-potatoes” moves … and those are already underway. There is, however, cap room to be a player, and … Updated by the minute, our Texans 2021 NFL Free Agency Tracker: Monday morning negotiations, Wednesday afternoon signings … News and views on the roster-building effort …
MARCH 24: TEXANS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE SEVEN SIGNINGS While common knowledge for some time, the Texans have made seven acquisitions from the past two weeks official.
The latest moves are headlined by two former Pro Bowlers in running back Mark Ingram and wide receiver and return specialist Andre Roberts.
Joining them amongst this latest batch of arrivals are linebackers Christian Kirksey and Kevin Pierre-Louis, defensive back Terrance Mitchell, wideout Chris Moore, and tight end Pharaoh Brown, who was re-signed after a strong 2020 campaign.
MARCH 24: TEXANS ADJUST MERCILUS’ CONTRACT Entering 2021, the Texans possibly held buyer’s remorse on extending long-time linebacker Whitney Mercilus.
That no longer is a problem after this season.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the Texans have restructured Mercilus’ contract for the coming season. The difference is that unlike other common “base-to-bonus” restructures, this change means it will be Mercilus’ final year in a Texans uniform on this contract. The new deal will now make his 2022 and 2023 contract seasons voidable – “dummy years” – meaning Mercilus will be free after the season.
Houston’s purpose in the move is to carve $4 million this season to go towards the salary cap.
MARCH 23: TEXANS RE-SIGNING FRANCHISE RECORD HOLDER While general manager Nick Caserio may have initially passed on re-signing long snapper Jon Weeks, it appears the team has backtracked as, according to Aaron Wilson, they are expected to re-sign the 11-year veteran.
This comes after they released fellow long snapper Anthony Kukwa on Tuesday.
Weeks has played a franchise-record 176 regular-season games for the Texans, having never missed a game since joining in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Baylor. Now 35, Weeks will be the oldest member of Houston’s roster as he lines up under his third different Texans head coach.
MARCH 23: TEXANS CUTS BEGIN AT WIDEOUT After signing a string of free-agent wide receivers the past two weeks, the Houston Texans have opted to waive fellow wideout Chad Hansen.
A 2017 fourth-round pick with the New York Jets, Hansen took full advantage of his opportunities with the Texans in 2020. Throughout two starts and five total appearances, Hansen recorded 236 receiving yards and his only NFL touchdown to date.
His standout performance came in Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts, where he recorded 101 receiving yards on five receptions during his first league appearance since his rookie year.
MARCH 23: TEXAS TO HOST FORMER SAINTS STANDOUT The Texans are looking to protect their quarterback in 2021. For now, it’s about adding depth in the trenches.
According to the Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, the Texans are set to host former New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Nick Easton this week. Easton, 28, was released by New Orleans in February one year after signing a four-year, $24 million contract.
A hybrid player at both guard and center, Easton started nine of 12 games last season at right guard before being replaced by rookie Cesar Ruiz. For his career, Easton has started 32 games, playing in 45 total.
MARCH 22: TEXANS ADD DIME LB Another day, another linebacker heads to Houston. The Texans have added former Minnesota Vikings Hardy Nickerson on a one-year deal.
Undrafted out of Illinois in 2017, Nickerson spent time playing for the Bengals for three seasons, primarily playing on special teams. For his career, Nickerson has recorded 81 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
MARCH 22: TEXANS SIGN EX CHIEFS WR The Texans will have at least veteran leadership on the roster this season. Houston officially agreed to terms with veteran wide receiver Chris Conley on Monday morning. The deal is expected to be for one-year.
Conley, who was drafted out of Georgia by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015, has tallied 191 career receptions for 2,484 yards and 13 touchdowns. He spent the last two seasons as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
MARCH 20: CASERIO CONTINUES CAP CLEAR UP Texans general manager Nick Caserio has continued to work on clearing up cap space for 2021, this time by renegotiating left tackle Laremy Tunsil’s contract.
Per Ian Rapoport, the Pro Bowler’s deal has essentially remained the same in terms of the total cost. However, he will now earn a base salary of $990,000 with a $15.61 mil bonus included.
The result? The Texans now have an extra $10.11 million in cap space available this season, while the remaining two years of his deal will currently remain unaltered.
MARCH 20: PASS-RUSHER SIGNS The Texans will be addressing their pass rush with the addition of Jordan Jenkins. A former third-round pick out of Georgia, Jenkins has recorded 189 tackles, 22.5 sacks, 46 quarterback hits and 25 tackles for losses.
The former New York Jets outside linebacker is expected to sign a two-year deal worth up to $8 million
MARCH 19: TEXANS ADD PRO BOWL RUNNER The Texans might be fine at running back overall, but one can never have enough weapons. Another running back is now in the backfield for 2021.
The Texans have agreed to terms with former Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay. According to his agent, Mike McCartney, Lindsay will head to NRG Stadium on a one-year deal worth $3.25M with $500k in upsides.
Lindsay, who went undrafted out of Colorado in 2018, has been a standout in the Mile High City for the past three seasons. In his first two years, Lindsay recorded back-to-back 1,000-plus yard years. In 2020 with the addition of Melvin Gordon, the 26-year-old recorded just 502 yards and one touchdown last season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
For his career, Lindsay rushed for 2,550 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
MARCH 19: MIAMI ADD ANOTHER TEXANS EX After trading for linebacker Benardrick McKinney and signing wideout Will Fuller already this offseason, the Dolphins have added yet another now-former Houston Texan with outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett heading to Hard Rock Stadium.
Scarlett spent five seasons in Houston after arriving undrafted out of Cal in 2016. A core special teamer for much of his time with the Texans, Scarlett’s presence on defense grew in 2019 and 2020, starting 14 games across this period.
However, after missing five games with a fractured forearm this past season he was never able to find his place in their evolving defense. And with the recent influx of free agent linebackers to accompany Houston’s new defensive formation and coordinator, Scarlett was not brought back and will look to find stake his claim for a spot alongside two former teammates on Miami’s roster.
MARCH 19: FAMILIAR FACE He is not a familiar face to the Texans, but offensive lineman Cole Toner played for line coach James Campen back with the Chargers, and now Toner is signing on via a one-year deal to come to Houston. He’s 6-5, 300, age 27, and a former fifth-round pick from Harvard.
He’s mostly been a practice-squadder, but … Toner is a budding rock star, too.
MARCH 19 TEXANS ADD PUNTER FOR 2021 The Texans needed to upgrade their special teams following the release of Bryan Anger. Houston has found it with former Philadelphia Eagles punter Cam Johnston.
A source confirms to TexansDaily.com that Johnston will join the Texans on a three-year deal, with the contract worth up to $8 million with a $1 million signing bonus. The news was first reported by Mike Kaye of NJ.com.
Johnston is coming off a career-worst 41.2 net-yard average per punt. During his three years with the Eagles, the 29-year-old averaged 47 yards and 42.1 net yards per punt.
MARCH 18 DEPTH DEPTH AND MORE DEPTH AT RECEIVER How many wide receivers are too many? Well, the Texans are doing their utmost to find out, adding two more free agents on Thursday evening. Donte Moncrief and Alex Erickson both arrive on one-year deals, per Ian Rapoport.
Moncrief, 27, is best known for his four seasons spent with AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts, where he amassed 1,875 receiving yards before spending time across four teams over the next three seasons, the Patriots being the most recent.
Meanwhile, Erickson, 28, has spent his entire career to date up in Cincinnati where he had his best offensive season in 2019 when he totaled 529 yards receiving. His best shot of making the roster will be as a special teamer, given he was the Bengals’ primary returner during his first three years in the league.
MARCH 18 NICK MARTIN HEADS TO VIA LAS VEGAS Nick Martin has a new home this offseason following his stint with the Texans. The former starting center agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas will be looking to improve their offensive line after trading Rodney Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals earlier this week.
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2016, Martin played in 62 games with the Texans’ offensive line. In 2019, Martin signed a three-year, $33 million contract extension with $18.5 million guaranteed. He was released earlier this month.
MARCH 18 A NEW KING OF THE SECONDARY Of all the Texans’ recent moves, this is the one that will be remembered most come Week 1. Houston agreed to terms will slot cornerback Desmond King early on Thursday evening. The deal is to be for one year worth $3.5 million.
King, who began his NFL career with the Los Angeles Chargers, was traded midseason to the Tennessee Titans. One of the more sure-fire tacklers at the position, King thrives inside against slot receivers and tight ends. The 26-year-old recorded 55 total tackles, two sacks, and two pass breakups last season.
A quality signing for Houston, King will be an excellent addition to Lovie Smith’s 4-3 scheme that will run plenty of zone reads next season.
MARCH 18 FULLER HEADS TO SOUTH BEACH The Texans knew there was a chance they would lose Will Fuller this offseason. That chance is now permanent following the recent news.
As reported by The Athletic’s Josh Tolentino, the Miami Dolphins have agreed to terms with the speedy target Thursday afternoon. The deal is expected to be one-year worth more than $10 million. Fuller will miss Week 1 after serving the final game of his PED suspension.
Fuller was a hot name on the market due to his speed. Entering the offseason, the 26-year-old target is coming off a career year with 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. The Texans elected not to franchise tag him at $15.3 million earlier this month.
Fuller ends his five seasons in Houston with 209 catches for 3,110 yards and 24 touchdowns.
MARCH 18 HOUSTON CUTS PUNTER The Texans announced Thursday that have released punter Bryan Anger. Anger was expected to make $2.5 million for the 2021 season. Last year with Houston, he averaged 46.4 yards per punt.
MARCH 18: TEXANS ADD BLOCKING TIGHT END Houston might have parted ways with Darren Fells, but they have added another name for blocking. The Texans have traded for Ryan Izzo from the New England Patriots. In return, New England will receive a 2022 seventh-round pick.
Izzo, primarily used as a blocker, played in 12 games last season. For his career, he’s recorded 19 receptions for 313 yards and a touchdown.
MARCH 18: TEXANS LOSE TIGHT END The Texans will be starting fresh at the tight end position. On Thursday, Houston cut 11-year veteran Darren Fells after two seasons.
A consistent target in the red zone, Fells recorded 55 catches for 653 and 11 touchdowns during his time
MARCH 18: WATKINS WAVES GOODBYE Addressing the defense of line will be a massive need this upcoming draft for the Texans. The Dallas Cowboys have signed former defensive and Carlos Watkins.
Watkins started in 11 games for the Texans last season. Houston is moving from their standard 3-4 line to a base 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.
MARCH 17: STARTER CUT The Texans have cut starting guard Zach Fulton, as The Chron is first to report, creating $3 million of cap room as Houston moves on to an O-line that will include newcomers Justin McCray, Marcus Cannon, and Justin Britt.
The Texans have also signed Tae Davis, a 6-2, 224-pound linebacker who was an undrafted rookie in 2018 but has special-teams play with the Giants and last year as a core special-teamer in Cleveland.
And speaking of Cleveland … The Texans have agreed to terms on a 2-year deal with corner Tavierre Thomas, formerly of the Browns, NFL Network reports.
MARCH 17: BROWN SIGNED The Texans signed tight end Pharoah Brown to a 1-year $2.2 mil deal, per NFL Network.
MARCH 16: DEFENSIVE REBUILD CONTINUES Familiar faces will be hard to come by in 2021 as the Texans have added yet another free agent in the shape of former Cleveland Browns cornerback Terrance Mitchell.
Per Ian Rapoport, Mitchell will be signing a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. The soon-to-be 29-year-old is fresh off of a strong year with the Browns having started all 16 games for the first time in his NFL career, recording 13 defended passes, three forced fumbles, 65 combined tackles while playing 99% of the team’s defensive snaps.
This deal gives the Texans another veteran option at the position, with Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves the slated starters.
MARCH 16: INSURANCE FOR DESHAUN The Texans will have to prepare for a potential standoff with Deshaun Watson. Should the 25-year-old quarterback still demand a trade, the Texans potentially have their bridge quarterback for 2021.
Houston has agreed to terms with former Los Angeles chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor. It is expected to be a one year deal worth $6 million. Taylor recently played under Texans pass game coordinator pep Hamilton and worked with new head coach David Culley during his time with the Buffalo Bills.
MARCH 16: ‘AN EASTERBY GUY’ The Texans have agreed to terms with outside linebacker/defensive end Derek Rivers, a 6-5, 250-pound fourth-year veteran who was with the Chargers last season but is a former third-round pick of the Patriots. … with a connection to Houston exec Jack Easterby. …
Rivers has 2.5 career sacks, but is Youngstown State’s all-time sack leader.
MARCH 16: 3 CUT Wide receivers J’Mon Moore and Damion Ratley and linebacker Curtis Bolton are being released, per The Chron.
None of the three were in-game factors for the Texans in 2020.
MARCH 15: HOUSTON TENDERS HALL: If someone wants to claim PJ Hall, they’re going to have to give back to the Texans. The former Sam Houston product was assigned a $2.133 million restricted free agent tender.
Hall had a quality season under Anthony Weaver following struggles with the Raiders. He started nine of 10 games played and recorded 34 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits.
MARCH 15: TEXANS ADD SPEED: It was clear the Texans wanted to upgrade their need at wide receiver and special teams. On Monday night they did both by adding former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore. The two sides agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth $2 million.
MARCH 15: TEXANS ADD COVER GUY AT LB Although it seems like Houston doesn’t need another linebacker, this could be another high-reward signing for the long-haul. The Texans agreed to terms with former Washington Football Team’s Kevin Pierre-Louis. The deal is expected to be two-years worth up to $8 million
Additionally, Houston is reportedly adding a receiver, Chris Moore, from the Ravens via a one-year deal.
MARCH 15: DEFENSIVE REBUILD CONTINUES Nick Caserio’s remarkably busy day has continued well into the evening with former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Joe Thomas the latest to be signed. Caserio’s theme of short-term, low risk-high reward contracts continued with Thomas signing a one-year $2 million deal.
Thomas made a little over $1 million in 2020 but he just doubled that in his one-year deal with the Houston Texans. He can start, back up, and play special teams. … and in Dallas?
Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith need to be better. And depending on what Sean Lee decides about retirement, that leaves the Cowboys with a clear need for a third linebacker.
MARCH 15: TEXANS BOLSTER INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE With the hope of keeping Deshaun Watson protected in 2021, the Texans have agreed to terms with guard Justin McCray. The former Packers and Falcons swing player will join on a two-year deal worth $4.5 million, including another $1 million in incentives. The news was first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo
MARCH 15: BROOKS BUYS INTO TEXANS REBUILD Houston will be adding another versatile defender to the mix this offseason with the addition of Terrance Brooks. The former New England Patriots safety is expected to join on a one-year deal worth $2 million per his agent, Drew Rosenhaus
MARCH 15: MALIEK BACK TO TEXAS Old Cowboys friend defensive tackle Maliek Collins moves from the Raiders back to Texas. He’ll help the Texans with the switch to 4-3, which he succeeded in during his time with the Cowboys – except for a series of troublesome foot ailments.
MARCH 15: TEXANS ADD SPECIAL TEAMS ACE Houston continues to address their special teams needs with the addition of cornerback-special-teamer Tremon Smith. Smith, who played last season for the Colts is expected to sign a one-year deal with a maximum value of $1.13 million. The news was first reported by The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson
MARCH 15: HOUSTON HAS A COVER BACKER The Texans could be set with their 4-3 linebacker formation following the signing of Kamu Grugier-Hill. Gugier-Hill is regarded as one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL and was initially drafted by Nick Caserio in New England. He’ll join Houston on a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.
MARCH 15: RETURN MAN FOUND The Texans will be adding another wide receiver to the room following the departure of Will Fuller. Houston and former Buffalo Bills return specialist Andre Roberts agree to a two-year deal worth $5.95 million.
So … Kamu can cover. And hopefully, especially on special teams, Roberts will make it tough on coverage opponents.
MARCH 15: EXPECT MORE TRADES That’s the word from NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. That makes Houston both a buyer and a seller here … and with $30 mil or so in cap room, a buyer on top of that, it is hoped.
MARCH 15: TWO DEALS DONE New GM Nick Caserio moved quickly over the weekend with a trio of deals …
MARCH 15: WATSON WATCH No, he’s not a free agent. But … you know. Deshaun Watson Trade Talks To ‘Heat Up’ For Texans Before Draft
MARCH 11: COOKS MONEY MOVED He might end up being the No. 1 receiver in 2021. So … Texans Move Brandin Cooks’ Money for Cap Room.
MARCH 11: PRO BOWL RB How much tread is left on the tires? Houston thinks it knows … Breaking: Texans Sign 3-Time Pro Bowl RB
MARCH 10: FULLER FINISHED? Houston made a major decision here. Is it a major mistake? Will Fuller Hits Free Agency; Did the Texans Make the Right Call? Our roundtable panel discusses.
MARCH 10: PATS PALS? What does Jack do? What if he does this? Is Easterby Key To Texans Acquiring Malcolm Butler?
MARCH 5: CAP CASUALTIES We made some predictions. We’re getting some right. Houston Texans Cap Casualties? The Next Moves