Contract Year: Can Texans Afford To Keep Reid?

Houston Texans safety Justin Reid is entering a contract year. With the market on the up, can they afford to keep one of their star players?
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As contract records continue to be broken around the NFL, the ongoing talks between the Seattle Seahawks and star safety Jamal Adams looks set to raise the bar yet again at the position. And the Houston Texans would be wise to be keeping a close eye on proceedings.

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A key member of this Texans defense, safety Justin Reid is one of the few holdovers remaining from the Bill O'Brien era at NRG Stadium. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the former Stanford Cardinal has become a central cog this Houston defense and, we say, has all the attributes both on and off the field that would make re-signing him a top priority.

The highest-paid safety in the league at this moment in time is Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos, who signed a four-year $62 million contract. A recent report suggested that Adams could be looking in the region of $18 million annually which would surpass Simmons' $15.25 and reset the market yet again. 

Would Reid command the same as Adams? It seems highly unlikely.

While his talent is undeniable, the NFL likely thinks that he isn't yet on the same level as Adams. Indeed, Pro Football Focus recently had Reid graded as the league's 25th best safety. And throw in the fact that he hasn't played a full 16 game season since his rookie year due to various injuries, and it seems safe to say he won't be looking at $18 million per year.

We bet Reid will eventually be one of the highest earners. Reid is still only 24,  and should expect to have a good season in 2021 in the new-look Lovie Smith defense.

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Given his age and importance to this team, combined with the upward trend in contract values, we will guess Reid could command somewhere in the region of $12-$14 million annually. This would put him well within the top 10 earners at his position in the league.

Could the Texans afford this? Well, the short answer is, "not at the moment.''

Right now, according to Spotrac the team's estimated salary cap space for 2022, based on a cap of $208.2 million, is just $3.87 million. And don't forget that this doesn't include their 2022 rookie deals and attempting to re-sign the multitude of important free agents they will have next season due to the amount of one-year deals handed out by general manager Nick Caserio this offseason. 

The big question mark is quarterback Deshaun Watson. He has a cap hit next year of $40 million, and given his trade request earlier this year, followed by the civil lawsuits filed against him it seems highly unlikely his future lies in Houston.

However, his situation could go multiple different ways at this time including suspension by the league or a trade. This means that predicting what Houston's final salary cap will look like in 2021 is hard enough, let alone 2022.

So the affordability of Reid is a fungible thing. Money can move. "Affordability'' can change in the blink of an eye in the coming months. Maybe, Houston will have to either franchise tag him and wait until 2023 to tie him down long-term, or bite the bullet and pay him. 

Either way, they will need to make some money-saving moves elsewhere on the roster, or risk losing one of their standout player who isn't yet Jamal Adams - but who Houston hopes is developing down that path.

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