Believe it or not, there are other NFL teams that have yet to acquire at least one new player during free agency.
Correct me if I'm wrong but by my count, Atlanta and Pittsburgh are the others.
Yes it's a very short list but the Texans, Steelers and Falcons have one thing in common - lack of cap space. At least that was true when the last somewhat reliable list of NFL team cap space was published.
It's important to note that the Texans re-signed Chris Myers shortly after that list was published. Myers counts around $4.5 million on the cap this year so reduce that $8.7 million to around $4.2 million. Then reduce it by another million or so to account for DeMeco Ryans' $9+ million in dead money that will accelerate against the cap this season.
In other words, when compared to the rest of the league, there aren't many teams as in as bad of shape as the Texans. Hence their lack of activity in free agency.
How did the Texans get in this bad of shape? That's one of the more common questions posed by Texans fans.
The simple answer is too many big contracts. And this isn't a new problem. The Texans have been spending and had serious cap issues last season but it seems that everyone has forgotten about that for some reason - or never knew.
So why did the Texans trade Ryans if the result was lost cap space? The answer is because they needed to take the hit this year because they have several free agents again next year, e.g., Duane Brown, Matt Schaub, Rashad Butler, Antoine Caldwell, Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, James Casey, and need the space.
I was called 'chicken little' more than once over the past several months regarding the Texans cap situation. "They'll be fine" was the common mantra. "They'll work it out." I'm not hearing as much of that any more.
Thankfully we're also not hearing nearly as much, ridiculous things like "why don't the Texans make a splash" in free agency and sign Mike Wallace (or any other big name that's still on the market)?
The short answer is the Texans aren't in the Mike Wallace derby (is there one?), because he's asking for Larry Fitzgerald money - not that he'll get it - and since he's restricted it will cost the acquiring team a first round draft choice and a bucketload of money the Texans don't have.
As far as the "just do something...anything" crowd, the Texans aren't in the position to go out and sign someone 'just because,' but at the same time being in a position where you can't sign anyone else is definitely a problem.
The Texans had more than one-third of their salary cap wrapped up in six players before they re-signed Arian Foster and they still have nearly 30% wrapped up in four players (Johnathan Joseph, Antonio Smith, Matt Schaub, and Foster).
Note: the Spotrac site has proved unreliable on some salary data but I believe the amounts on the Texans 'big four' are close to accurate.
"Why don't the Texans get creative?" (on the cap) is another frequent question posed by Texans fans.
The short answer to that one is they have, restructuring several player deals last season and re-doing Andre Johnson's again this year.
Re-structures can be beneficial in the short term, if done wisely, but sooner or later the deferred bonus money catches up to you and the bills come due (like Andre Johnson's will either next year or in '14). Not done wisely, re-structuring deals is like our federal government's model for managing money. Kick the can down the road and let someone else pay for it later, i.e., risk bankruptcy or cap hell depending on the situation.
The moral of this story is the Texans have already made their splash in free agency by re-signing Chris Myers and Arian Foster and they'll continue to be challenged to stay under the cap as they fill out their roster with draft picks and undrafted free agents. Don't be surprised if there are more cap casualties ahead.
Only the top 51 salaries count against the cap this time of year and the Texans currently have 52 players under contract.
For those who are saying the Texans will be 'just fine,' I hope you're right. The optimist in me says three of the four Texans players with the 'C' on their jersey in this picture haven't gone anywhere.
But the Texans lost plenty of talent and leadership over the past few weeks and while in most cases capable backups step into their spots, vacant roster spots are going to be backfilled by rookies and cheap free agents.
That might prove beneficial down the line but how it affects the team this year remains the 120 million dollar question.