The Houston Texans have a lot of work to do this offseason. They have a new coach in Lovie Smith, the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and will likely need to make some significant trades to jumpstart a rebuild.
On Monday, Sportrac's Mike Ginnitti suggested the Texans need to consummate the long-awaited Deshaun Watson trade, and also need to dump left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Brandin Cooks.
Watson's cap hit for the 2022 season is $40.4 million, while Tunsils sits at $26.2 million, and Cooks will cost $16.2 million. Those are the three most expensive players on Houston's roster. So, yeah, they've got to go.
Watson's trade demand came before his myriad legal problems. He's been out the door since January of 2021 when he asked to be moved. It's long past time for the Texans to find a buyer for the three-time Pro Bowler. He's still only 26 and has tremendous upside. If he puts his legal issues behind him, he'll be attractive to a number of quarterback-needy teams.
Bill O'Brien surrendered a ton to acquire Tunsil from the Miami Dolphins in 2019, giving up two first-rounders, a second-rounder and two players. Then he inked a huge extension in April of 2020. A two-time Pro Bowler, Tunsil missed most of the 2021 season after undergoing thumb surgery. When he did play, he wasn't great, as Pro Football Focus graded him out at 60.8. Still, he's at least a decent left tackle when healthy, is only 27 and plenty of teams could use a guy like him.
Somehow, O'Brien also gave up a second-round pick for Brandin Cooks (and a fourth-rounder). Cooks has been solid in Houston, turning in back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. But he's not a game-changer. Still, he's a well-traveled veteran wideout who could help a contender. He's somehow still only 28. The Texans should be able to find a modest return for him.
In each case, the Texans should be targeting draft picks to aid with the rebuilding process. Get rid of bad contracts, refuse to take any long-term money back and load up on picks to help build out the roster. Frankly, the only goal this offseason should be to completely tear things down and start over.
Trading Watson, Tunsil and Cooks would go a long way to doing that.