The Houston Texans made a small but crucial move to keep their offensive line together for the 2020 season by reworking starting right guard Zach Fulton's contract. Fulton and the Texans agreed to a deal that would get money in his pocket that he did not have before the off-season began to open up cap relief for the next two seasons.
With the move, the Texans have helped themselves not only for this season but for potential moves heading to the season.
We take a look at how keeping Fulton helped the Texans.
Keeping the offensive line intact
The Texans were never interested in moving on from Fulton despite calls from people on the outside to cut his $7 million in salary to free up cap space.
Recently offensive coordinator Tim Kelly mentioned the importance and how pleased he had the entire offensive line returning in 2020.
Kelly explained, "I can't stress how important those are for an offensive line to be able to kind of come together and play as one unit. It's a good thing that we have all five of those guys coming back."
The Texans keep their offensive line together heading into the 2020 season and a group that steadily improved throughout last season. With Laremy Tunsil arriving just before the start of the season and shifting occurring on the line, the Texans did not have their line set until week three of the season.
Fulton, along with Nick Martin, were the staples of the interior through those changes. Only surrendering one sack on the entire season, Fulton is not a flashy player but a consistent player that is needed for the whole of the continuity of the offensive line group.
Zach Fulton gets relief
There is nothing worse for veteran players to enter contracts with funny money deals. What does that mean?
It means contracts with money on paper but not guaranteed money backing those numbers.
Fulton had $14 million left in his final two years of his original deal with the Texans with no guaranteed money. Fulton was able to get $5 million in his pocket from the Texans to adjust his contract and drop his cap numbers.
That is $5 million that he did not have before he entered his off-season which is a good return for a veteran player in Fulton's position.
It not only gives the Texans some room to work with the adjustment but showed Fulton they are committed to him for 2020 with the $5 million upfront.
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Add in Fulton's cap number drops to only $3 million in 2021, it lines up for an opportunity for Fulton to stick around in Houston as a possible starter or depth player for the offensive line.
Bye Larry Warford
Fulton adjusting his contract for the 2020 season, that puts the Texans out of the Larry Warford sweepstakes. The Texans reportedly showed interest in the ex-Saints starting right guard after he was released due to cap purposes. Warford was an upgrade in the run game blocking, but Fulton showed better as a pass protector in 2019.
Extended Stats 2019 Stats
Fulton: 699 pass snaps | 1 sack | 1 quarterback hit | 28 pressures | 30 total pressures
Warford: 644 pass snaps | 3 sacks | 6 quarterback hits | 23 hurries | 32 total pressures
The Texans were able to pay Fulton $5 million upfront in 2020 to drop the veteran offensive lineman's cap number in 2020. The Texans will have a savings of $2.75 million this season while dropping Fulton's cap numbers buy $2 million in 2020 and $4 million in 2021.
Over two years, the Texans will save $6 million of the original $14 million on Fulton's deal that was left from the contract that he signed in 2018.
With the Texans moving money, the Texans can use that cap space to finish signing their draft picks in Ross Blacklock, John Reid, and Isaiah Coulter. With Bradley Roby and Tim Jerningan's contracts not officially on the books, the Texans cap situation is fluid at the moment due to not taking their physicals.
It is just a matter of time before those deals are complete, but the small relief of money is not enough to bring in a big name for the season.
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