Prediction of the Houston Texans 2022 Wage Ceiling

With the regular NFL season now over, the part of the calendar that really matters more to the long-term well-being of the Houston Texans is here – the 2022 offseason. What happens over the next four months – freedom of action, the draft and the possible trade in Deshaun Watson – will end up being far more critical of the future of the Texans than anything that has happened in the last 18 weeks (unless Davis Mills on somehow actually IS the future QB for this team).

Free agency starts in March, the draft is in April, but there are moves that general manager Nick Caserio can start making today if he either wants to strengthen the roster, or in the case of what I am about to lay out, do further clean up on the team payroll situation. Say what you will about Caserio’s first year as GM for this team, but he’s managed to sweep away much of Bill O’Brien’s salary cap.

Right now, as of Tuesday morning, the Texans have nearly $ 38 million in cap space for next season. That number will rise past $ 70 million after trading with Deshaun Watson, and will begin to creep close to $ 100 million if they move to tackle Laremy Tunsil. These are potential big moves. However, there are fewer moves available for Caserio if he wants to open up for smaller chunks of money to get on with his rebuilding plan.

Here are four contracts that Caserio can move on from today, and in the process open up for a total of nearly $ 18 million in cap space. They are as follows

OL MARCUS KANON
2022 CAP FIGURE: $ 6,350,000
DEAD MONEY 2022: $ 0
SAVINGS 2022: $ 6,350,000
UNDER CONTRACT VIA: 2022
Cannon was one of Caserio’s first big acquisitions as he swapped several day 3 draft picks to get him in to start at right tackle. Overall, the move would have to be categorized as a failure. While Cannon played decently in the four games he started, he was injured a month into the season and never returned. Meanwhile, the team moved Tytus Howard, last season’s starting right tackle, to the left guard, where he played very poorly during his stay at the place. This is an easy decision.

LB KEVIN PIERRE-LOUIS
2022 CAP FIGURE: $ 4,000,000
DEAD MONEY 2022: $ 500,000
SAVINGS 2022: $ 3,500,000
UNDER CONTRACT VIA: 2022
Pierre-Louis was one of a host of veteran fringe players brought on by Caserio to create a competitive atmosphere. He was even more prone to injury than Cannon, missing most of the training camp and eventually playing only in 29 snaps defensively all season.

S ERIC MURRAY
2022 CAP FIGURE: $ 6,750,000
DEAD MONEY 2022: $ 1,500,000
SAVINGS 2022: $ 5,250,000
UNDER CONTRACT VIA: 2022
These last two contracts are both the last clean-up assignments from the Great Overpay Offseason in 2020. First, we have Murray, who has started 25 games in two seasons and has been as overwhelming as we all expected. I would guess that there is almost no chance that Murray is back in 2022 and he will definitely not be back with his current salary.

KA’IMI FAIRBAIRN
2022 CAP FIGURE:
$ 4,300,000
DEAD MONEY 2022:
$ 1,500,000
SAVINGS 2022: $ 2,800,000
UNDER CONTRACT VIA: 2023
Then there’s Fairbairn, who was paid by Bill O’Brien as a top five kicker in the NFL when he’s clearly nowhere near being a top five kicker in the NFL. Fairbairn have had accessibility issues this season, first with injuries in training camp and then with COVID at the end of the season. When he came on the field, he was staggering 15 of 19 on field goals and 13 of 16 on PATs.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 06:00 to 10.00 on weekdays. Also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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