Jan 7, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith (94) and linebacker Connor Barwin (98) and defensive end J.J. Watt (99) talk to each other against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter of the 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Houston Texans 2012 Cap Room Situation and Possible Offseason Approaches (Part 1)


Heading into the 2011 season, the Houston Texans were picked by many football experts to finish behind the Colts in the AFC South and out of the playoff picture. A franchise-best 10-6 regular season record, first ever division title and playoff victory later, they became a force to be reckoned with, highlighted by a lock-down defense that ranked second in the league.

With a young and talented roster, this Texans team should be able prove that 2011 was not a one-year wonder. Key players on defense such as J.J. Watt, Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Brian Cushing, and Jonathan Joseph are all 28 years old or younger and under team control for at least two more seasons. On offense, Matt Schaub, Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson, though on the wrong side of 30, should remain consistent while continue to wear battle red, steel blue and liberty white for the next couple seasons barring anything unexpected. Four out of five starting offensive linemen also will return. As long as they stay healthy, the amount of talent generated among this group should guarantee the Texans postseason berths for years to come.

Now that the Houston faithful had seen their beloved Texans secure a division title and playoff victory for the first time, they would, naturally, dream big and demand for more. These hungry fans will certainly not settle for just another early postseason exit; they want more than that, a deep playoff run, a trip to New Orleans next February, or even a Lambeau trophy. In order to please their ambitious fans, GM Rick Smith and Co. have no other choice but to be ambitious as well. The Texans currently possess a deep, balanced, and high quality roster as of now, but could still use some extra pieces to push them over the top and become a Super Bowl-caliber football team.

And they can address those needs this offseason.

But first let’s take a look at the Texans’ current cap room situation.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the NFL salary cap, here is a brief explanation of how it works. Under the new CBA agreement signed in 2011, the NFL requires all teams to build their roster under a salary cap of $120.375 million. There’s no salary floor, however, until 2013, when every team has to spend at least 89% of the cap. For the upcoming 2012 season, each team HAS to spend 99% of the cap, which is $119.2 million. Essentially, the amount of money a team can spend on player salaries in 2012 must fall between $119.2 million and $120.375 million.

Back to the Texans, this is how their projected 2012 cap room expenditures look at the moment:

2012 Dead Money: $7,860,000

Notables:

  • RB Steve Slaton (Dolphins) – 555,000
  • DT Amobi Okoye (Bears) – 3,615,000
  • QB Dan Orlovsky (Colts) – 2,250,000
  • WR David Anderson (Redskins) – 1,440,000

2012 Projected Total Contract Value: $86,928,881

Notables:

  • WR Andre Johnson – 9,328,571
  • QB Matt Schaub – 8,316,667
  • DT/DE Antonio Smith – 8,100,000
  • LB DeMeco Ryans – 7,150,000
  • TE Owen Daniels – 6,500,000

2012 Projected Cap Space: $25,611,199

And here is the list of the Texans’ pending free agents:

  • RB Arian Foster
  • C Chris Myers
  • OLB/DE Mario Williams
  • K Neil Rackers
  • CB Jason Allen
  • S Dominique Barber
  • S Quintin Demps
  • G Mike Brisiel
  • TE Joel Dreessen
  • ILB Xavier Adibi
  • P Brad Maynard
  • RB Derrick Ward
  • C Jon Weeks

 

Jan 7, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith during the AFC Wildcard Playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Bengals 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

As you can see, the Texans will have tough decisions to make regarding their big-name free agents such as Foster, Williams and Myers and other solid contributors in Rackers, Allen and Dreessen. Who should they retain? Who should they let go? And with more than $25 million to spend on addressing the team’s needs, what would they do? Would they turn their focus onto the draft? Or would they prioritize free agency? Readers, we at ToroTimes would like to present you with a challenge, now that you understand how the salary cap works, what the Texans current cap room situation looks like, and players whose contracts have run out, let’s try to fill in the shoes of GM Rick Smith for a day or two and come up with your own plans as to how the Texans should spend their money this offseason. What would be YOUR decisions if you are the one in charge?

In a follow-up post, ToroTimes will examine what we think are possible offseason approaches for the Texans and how each of them makes sense. Stay tuned!

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Tags: Arian Foster Chris Myers Franchise Tag Mario Williams Salary Cap Texans

  • obrien52289

    Keep foster,myers, Demps, and rackers

  • obrien52289

    The Texans should keep Foster, Myers, Demps, Rackers- draft kickers to tho

  • Dalucky1

    I only see 3 free agents who need to be resigned immediately and they are Mario Williams, Arian Foster, and Chris Meyers. Everyone else can be easily replaced by someone on the roster or through the draft. Joel Dressen can be replaced by Garrett Graham, Derrick Ward can be replaced in the draft, Neil Rackers can be replaced through the draft (maybe having a rookie kicker will force Gary Kubiak to be more aggressive instead of settling for field goals), and the rest of the guys can test the free agent market.

    I also think they should cut Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, Matt Leinart and Shaun Cody to free up some additional cap space for next season. We should draft two wide recievers and we have Lestar Jean on the practice squad and by cutting Walter and Jones, we now have cap space to sign a veteran wide reciever to a 1 or 2 year incentive laden contract to give some of our younger wide recievers time to adjust to the NFL. Maybe we sign Terrell Owens or Reggie Wayne or Randy Moss as our #2 to Andre Johnson as we make our Super Bowl run. Matt Leinart can be replaced by TJ Yates as the #2 and future quarterback of the Texans so there is no need Matt Leinart. Shaun Cody can be replaced by Ear Mitchell or Tim Jamison who are better pass rushers than Cody. Cutting those four veterans would probably give the Texans an additional 10 to 12 million dollars.

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  • Patrick Harrel

    Where’d you get the figures? Texans’ cap room has been reported everywhere from 3 million to your 25 million.

  • Dalucky1

    Honestly, from Madden 12 but now it has been confirmed on NBC Sportstalk under the title Franchise tenders shrink under new CBA. Here is the article. http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/19/franchise-tenders-shrink-under-new-cba/

    The 25 million is before they resign Mario, Arian, Chris Meyers and Mike Briseil. I only see those four being top priority in that order. Everyone else is easily replaced. Per the article, OLB’s franchise number is 8.8 million while a RB’s franchise number is 7.7 million. So resigning Mario and Arian is not that difficult but I would still release Shaun Cody, Matt Leinart, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones to get some additional cap space to sign a veteran wide recievers to play opposite of Andre Johnson and ahead of the drafted rookies.

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