What to Expect This Offseason From the Houston Texans

Houston Texans GM Rick Smith has several tough decisions ahead. Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The changes in the Houston Texans organization have just begun. If you thought the number of coaches that were fired was extreme, just wait until the roster starts taking shape. It will be overhauled for far more reasons than just a 2-14 record.

Between now and the draft there is plenty to entertain fans that has nothing to do with which quarterback they will draft. Free agency, players not fitting the new schemes, salary cap issues, and underperforming talent are just a few of the main reasons that the 2014 roster will not have many familiar faces.

We all know that in football there are 22 starters between offense and defense. My philosophy (for what it’s worth) is that there are 24 since the backup running back and nickel cornerback are just as important as many starters in today’s NFL.

So out of their 24 starters, the Texans will undoubtedly have to replace seven including quarterback Matt Schaub. That number could double once the salary cap casualties are gone and jobs are lost.

tEXans free agent starters

It’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Texans to want some of these guys back, but given their current cap situation it’s highly unlikely any of them would be back without taking a minimum contract.

What have you done for me lately?

If Coach Bill O’Brien has been working around the clock as described, then he is now fully aware that right tackle Derek Newton and outside linebacker Brooks Reed underperformed in 2013.

Trust me when I say that I like Reed. I wish I had hair like him, but 5.5 sacks in the last two seasons combined is unacceptable at his position.

Newton will likely be relegated to a backup role and Reed may be as well if the move to inside linebacker (speculated by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle) isn’t successful.

Who’s not an expert general manager?

EVERYONE loves to pretend they are a genius when it comes to whom to sign, trade, or cut. That’s one of the great things about professional sports and it’s really not that hard. We all know who’s good or bad.

Most of us wanted to sign Peyton Manning two years ago. We all wanted to cut Ed Reed. Everyone can make the easy decisions, but the difficult ones make or break a franchise.

In reality, very few understand the business side of it. I’d like to think that I do. The number-crunching, structuring of contracts, and overall financial strategy fascinates me.

I’m the guy that plays Madden by signing free agents, cutting and resigning players, and drafting new personnel only to simulate the entire season just to see if the team was built to win.

Breaking down the cap

The current roster leaves the Texans with approximately $5.65 million in cap space according to the expected cap increase for 2014.

There is a lot of work to do for the front office to put the team in position to add pieces that fit the new system and sign the new draft picks. Another top priority will be creating room to sign J.J. Watt to a record-breaking contract similar to the one Spotrac predicts.

Substantial cap space will have to be created, and the Texans have several ways to do so. However, if you are able to create any significant amount of space, odds are that you will be losing players not easily replaced.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming breakdown on those most likely to be released.

Follow me on Twitter @JEBuchta07

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Topics: Houston Texans, Rick Smith

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