Texans Mailbag: Zach Fulton's contract opened up cap space, what is next for the Texans?

Patrick D. Starr

The Houston Texans reworked starting right guard Zach Fulton's contract for the 2020 and 2021 season to keep the offensive line intact. Now with the move, does it free up cap space for the Texans to make more moves?

We answer questions on that topic and more in this week's mailbag. 

Texans Mailbag 5.31.2020

SOTT-Mailbag

You mention the Fulton deal allows for some rookie and FA signings to take place, but could it also indicate the FO is inching closer to Deshaun's deal? -@trevtron

It could no doubt, but an extra $2.75 million cap savings from the move is not going to cover the price tag for Watson's adjustment this season or the $4 million in 2021.

The Texans cap number is currently at $15,879,926, according to TexansCap.com http://texanscap.com/team-salary-cap-space/2020-team-salary-cap-space/. That number is without cornerback Bradley Roby or defensive tackle Tim Jernigan's contracts on the books due to not taking their physicals.

If you add Roby's ($9.312M) and Jernigan's ($3.75M) contracts up for 2020, it is close to leaving the Texans with less than $3 million on their books. That is without signing key rookie draft picks like Ross Blacklock, John Reid, and Isaiah Coulter.

There will have to be more adjustments to free up cap space.

Freeing cap space to bring someone in? Clowney/Reid/Other? -@FF_Peacock

You can see my answer above. The cap space the Texans are working with makes it hard to see any move for a free agent happening at the moment, especially with Ross Blacklock, John Reid, and Isaiah Coulter taking priority.

Also, the Jadeveon Clowney boat has sailed. The Texans attempted at least twice to re-sign him with contract offers, and Clowney rebuffed them before he was traded to Seattle.

Look, we like Clowney and think he can help the Texans, but how everything transpired heading to the trade makes it difficult to see Clowney returning to the Texans.

What were your thoughts on the interview with OC Tim Kelly. -@Josgrant2811

It has been a week since Kelly has spoken to the media, and it seems he was a little more open than he has been in the past. Now, with that said, he is not going to divulge more info that he needs to due to coming from the Bill O'Brien school of media training.

It does seem that Kelly has more ownership of the Texans offense than he did last year based on his duties now calling plays. He is more willing to discuss specific players of the offense and what he wants from Deshaun Watson in 2020, consistency.

For the first press conference since being named offensive coordinator, Kelly did what he was supposed to give answers with not much substance.

What is the likelihood they sign another CB, DL, or safety? -@DonGreat12

Low right now, the Texans have little reason to bring in any player with their roster, not even hitting the field. They have a roster built to take the field for training camp, and then camp will adjust their thinking based on performance and/or injuries.

The bulk of their week one roster to face Kansas City is already in the building. With limited cap and little real need to make a move, its hard to see anything happening on that front.

Texans haven't been able to stop tight ends for a while, and look even less equipped this season. What can Weaver do to address this defensive weakness? -@randomdogname

The Texans versus tight ends gave up:

  • 868 receiving yards versus the position which was 12th best in the NFL. Six touchdowns which was tied for 6th most with 13 other teams.
  • 75 receptions which was tied for 12th most with the Lions.
  • 4.5 receptions per game
  • 53.5 yards per game

The Texans signed Tashaun Gipson Sr. to shut down tight ends last season, and with injuries and to give up a 73.1% completions against him in coverage, the team was lucky even to be in coverage versus the tight end.

The Texans will bank on a healthier Justin Reid, the second year of Lonnie Johnson, Jr., Eric Murray, and Michael Thomas to help slow the tight end position.

The big thing is the Texans not depending on just one player to do it. They will have to do it with multiple players and looks to slow down opposing tight ends.

Inside AFC South Features: Best QB Situation | Best Off-Season Move | Most Important Rookie

Do you think we have a problem with linebacker depth and safety depth? -@prohater2020

I think there is more of an issue at INSIDE linebacker than the safety position. The Texans can mix and match at safety if needed, but outside of Benardick McKinney and Zach Cunningham, that is all they have.

We want to count on Dylan Cole, but three seasons in the league have all ended on the injured reserve. Tyrell Adams and Peter Kalamabyi are special teams players at the moment, and that's been their roles to this point. Adams filled in in certain points last season when McKinney went out with a concussion. Rookie Jan Johnson enters the mix this season, and we will have to wait and see what he brings to the roster.

The Texans banking on Cole seems to be their plan, but they will need to keep a pulse on the market just in case. 

Any comparisons to what we can expect the offense to look like? Rams in 2018, Pats 2011 etc.- @javierjchapa1

I think you have to think along the lines of the earlier Patriots teams when they had a strong slot wide receiver with plus pass-catching players out of the backfield.

The big thing with all of the Patriots offenses, they have running backs that can catch simple check-downs and make defenders miss to eat up yards. That is where David Johnson and Duke Johnson fit for the offense this season. 

The one difference with this skill group is the vertical threats that Kenny Stills, Will Fuller V, and Brandin Cooks bring to the offense for Watson to threaten for big plays.

It does feel like this offense is a melting pot of past Patriots, and Mike Martz run St. Louis Rams offenses with the current Kansas City Chiefs offense built with speed.

The big thing is having enough talent to win at all three levels with the offense. With the deep ball, intermediate routes with receivers and tight ends, and underneath routes with running backs. 

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