5 Players the Houston Texans Shouldn't Bring Back Next Season
The Texans have major issues at quarterback, safety, inside linebacker, outside linebacker and on the offensive line.
They need to take full advantage of the draft to address key positions of need, but that will not be enough. The Texans have enough holes that they must explore the free-agent market and make several impact signings.
The Texans, though, are wading in an extremely poor cap situation right now, and they hardly have enough money to re-sign their own free agents.
In order for the Texans to succeed this offseason, they must carefully choose whom to cut, whom to keep and whom to let walk in free agency.
Here are five significant players to whom the Texans must wave farewell this offseason.
He's the most obvious player on this list. It is clear that Matt Schaub's tenure in Houston will be over by the end of the upcoming offseason.
Having lost his starting job to undrafted rookie Case Keenum, Schaub has no chance to regain his former position on the team.
And while it would be nice to hang onto Schaub as a backup, he simply stands to make too much money over the next few seasons. The Texans are already in a precarious cap situation, and hanging onto an extremely expensive backup quarterback will only exacerbate the issue.
Fortunately for them, though, they can easily "escape Schaub's contract," as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk puts it, if they cut him this offseason, and they can save a ton of money that can be used to address other needs.
Schaub, the longtime starter who was once believed to be the Texans' best chance at a Super Bowl, is done in Houston.
This will be the most painful loss of the offseason for the Texans.
Tate is an exceptional running back who possesses talent and athletic ability superior to most running backs.
Tate, however, is sick of playing second fiddle to Arian Foster, and nothing but a substantial contract offer from the Texans will him convince to remain in Houston.
While it would be incredible for the Texans to hang onto Tate, especially considering Foster's injury issues, it would simply be too expensive.
The Texans cannot afford to pay starting running back money to a backup who might not see the field often if Foster is healthy.
Antonio Smith has been a phenomenal player for the Houston Texans, and he has been one of the best pass-rushers outside of J.J. Watt over the past two seasons.
Smith, though, will be yet another cap casualty this offseason. Although he has played a key role for the Texans' defense during his stay in Houston, he will simply cost too much money if he doesn't take a hometown discount.
To ease concerns, however, Smith's play hasn't been exactly spectacular so far this season. His pass-rushing has been average at best, and he's not consistently showing the burst that he used to have.
And with him climbing the age ladder, one has to question if he will continue to wane every season for the rest of his career.
Overall, the Texans should avoid re-signing Smith in free agency, and they should re-invest his money in a younger, more efficient pass-rusher.
Earl Mitchell, another 2014 free agent, is neither expensive nor terrible.
He's simply average, but average is not acceptable at the nose tackle position. In the Texans' current 3-4 defense, a great nose tackle would be an absolute game-changer.
For example, a playmaking nose tackle would force defenses to abandon their extreme focus on J.J. Watt, which would open up a ton of room for him to display his superior pass-rushing ability.
Mitchell simply can't do this for the Texans' defense, and there is truly no reason for the Texans to re-sign him if they stick with a 3-4 defense.
On the surface, losing Owen Daniels would hurt.
He's been Matt Schaub's safety blanket for most of his career, and he's a consistent playmaker who always gets the job done.
Daniels, however, is often injured and expensive. The Texans could free up some salary-cap space by cutting him, and they would not have to worry about losing a highly paid player for an extended period of time every season.
Also, the recent performances of both Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin have made Daniels expendable. If the two young tight ends can continue to improve, they could effectively fill the void left by Daniels' hypothetical departure from Houston for a much smaller price.