Playing on the fifth year option of his rookie deal, Will Fuller most likely will be on a new team in 2021 regardless of how his 2020 season pans out.
Those who enjoy seeing Will Fuller suited up in a Houston Texans uniform may want to pay extra close attention in 2020 … because it could very well be Fuller’s final season in H-Town.
Drafted in 2016, Fuller is set to enter the fifth and final season of his rookie deal this fall. Whereas it’s public knowledge that the Texans are currently negotiating with quarterback Deshaun Watson on a new contract that will extend long past the conclusion of his rookie deal, the same cannot be said for Fuller.
Why? Injuries, almost undoubtedly.
Fuller has been a dynamic weapon offensively ever since Houston added him to their receivers room. The problem has been injuries — Fuller has yet to play a full 16-game season. He played in 14 games as a rookie in 2016, in 10 games in 2017, in seven games in 2018, and in 11 games in 2019.
When he’s healthy, Fuller has plenty of potential and upside — and there’s no denying he can be a deep threat and a touchdown machine.
But because he’s so seldom stayed healthy throughout an NFL season, it’s hard to fault the Texans for not extending him beyond the expiration of his current deal.
This begs the obvious question: If Fuller manages to make it through a full season unscathed and flourishes in the Houston offense sans DeAndre Hopkins, will the Texans give him a new deal?
Possibly … but not probably.
The interesting thing with Fuller is that in some ways, his career with the Texans is damned if you do/damned if you don’t. If he plays all 16 games finally and becomes the true WR1 everyone hopes he will be this year, there’s a very good chance he prices himself out of Houston’s affordability to keep him.
The Texans already rank 28th out of all 32 teams in terms of available cap space next offseason in 2021 according to Spotrac. That figure could shrink even further if Houston gifts Watson a lucrative new deal (as is expected) — plus, the Texans also have to commit money to other players who will be free agents next spring as well (potential targets include linebacker Zach Cunningham, cornerback Gareon Conley, and fellow wide receiver Kenny Stills).
Should Fuller produce and produce big in a contract year this fall, he’ll likely look to cash in on what could be his only real opportunity for a sizable payday — especially given his lengthy injury history. No one could blame him for doing so … and in that situation, the Texans might be wise to commit more of their available funds elsewhere.
If Will Fuller plays poorly in 2020 or misses any time, he’s also out in 2021
Of course, the flip-side to this scenario also exists and is very plausible. If Fuller misses time this season due to injuries (likely) — or even if he underwhelms and takes a backseat to a guy like Stills or new additions Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, or pass-catching back David Johnson — that could also spell the end of Fuller’s time in Houston by season’s end.
Either way, it looks as if Fuller might not return to Houston in 2021. As such, fans should enjoy every minute they get of the speedster receiver in a Texans uniform.