Houston Texans should place the franchise tag on D.J. Reader

Houston Texans nose tackle D.J. Reader (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Houston Texans nose tackle D.J. Reader (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

D.J. Reader is a free agent and the Houston Texans are in grave danger in losing one of the best nose tackles they’ve ever had. What’s the latest? Look.

Houston Texans fans — we’re just weeks away from when teams will be able to talk exclusively with players to sign contracts the official bidding for free agents will open up the 2020 season.  The magic date is March 16 and it’s also known as the legal tampering period which will last through March 18.

The Houston Texans have a lot of decisions to make in terms of how this team will be shaped going into the upcoming season and a lot of tough calls will have to be made to ensure they still within the parameters of the salary cap.

The Houston Texans have never been proclaimed as big spenders but these past few seasons have offered this team plenty of cap space, allowing the flexibility for them to make moves as they see fit.

The team consistently remains in the Top 10 among teams with the most amount of cap space available, so it goes to show that even though they’re not spending wads of cash to keep this team competitive, they’re still winning games and making playoff appearances.  In a business owner’s eyes — i.e. Cal McNair — that’s getting the best bang for the buck and an immense return on investment.

I’d expect this modus operandi to continue for the Houston Texans and players who expect to get paid tons of money will be sent by the wayside elsewhere to which they’ll have that opportunity.

One of the top candidates where his fate is likely sealed is nose tackle D.J. Reader.  Drafted out of Clemson in the 5th round back in 2016, he has been nothing short of amazing for the Houston Texans.  He’s incredibly gifted, skillfully infringing his presence on the defensive line for any given matchup.  He’s a run-stopper, he’s a pass-rusher and has done everything that he’s been asked to do and more, offering excellent value.

Despite all of that, with Deshaun Watson‘s massive contract extension looming down the line plus Laremy Tunsil making demands to be paid $20 million per season in an extension of his own, this organization will be coughing up cash in short order.

This leaves little room for guys like D.J., who deserve to be compensated fairly for their talents.

The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson thinks that Reader, 25, is as good as gone and that’s likely the case.  He mentions that the franchise made early advances to get him a new deal paying him around $6 million per season but he turned that offer down.

He reportedly wants to be paid within the range of $11 million to $13M per season and that will certainly be a situation to handcuff the Houston Texans if the quest that they seek is to have considerable cap space with each passing season.

A stopgap at this moment would be to place the franchise tag on Reader, to which would cost the

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team about $17M or so for this season.  This will table this issue to next season where they can come to the table again and hopefully work something out.

As it stands now, the Houston Texans have about $61.3 million in cap space with every major piece of this team under contract so I don’t see what’s so tough about tagging him for now and working it out later.

But with the way things are going, Brandon Dunn will likely be promoted into Reader’s role, especially with the team re-signing him to a three-year, $12 million extension recently.  They can also turn to the draft to try to bring in another nose tackle to develop and I’m sure that’s likely where they’re headed with this.

Next. How the Texans are approaching Gareon Conley's contract. dark

We’ll have to see what happens but I hope that this team can find some way to retain Reader.

Reader accumulated 52 tackles — 28 solos — along with 2.5 sacks, six tackles-for-loss and 13 quarterback hits through 15 starts last season.