MISSING THE FRENZY

Did the Texans lose trade collateral when they gave up draft picks?

Former Texans GM Rick Smith traded away several key picks. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The NFL year and official start to the offseason does not officially happen until tomorrow, but there have already been enough moves to make your head spin. Several big-name players have been shipped via trade and with them the free agency blue prints have been set for nearly every team. This volume of deals being made might be a surprise to many; just not me. I can safely say I saw the future and that future was trading. During last year’s offseason I wrote for the now shuttered HoustonSportsandStuff.com about how this might become a trend. Now it seems prophetic because I can’t recall ever seeing this many trades happen in one offseason.

But lo and behold, the Texans are once again not a part of the action. This time it’s not because they don’t want to try. I’m sure if they could, they would. Their predicament while all these shenanigans are going on is the lack of 1st and 2nd round picks. Without the ability to get one of the top 64 players, they need to use what’s left of their picks wisely in the draft. Going after veteran players that other teams are willing to ship off for late round picks is too much of a gamble..

They currently have three picks in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. With any luck they can package two of them to move into the 2nd round and find a quality player where need and value meet. New GM Brian Gaine will be paying close attention, looking for the right trading partner when the moment is right. But looking back at the last years of Rick Smith, I can’t help but wonder if he gave away too much too soon.

When Osweiler was signed as a free agent I was all for the move, just not at that price. I would never outbid an unproven player’s previous team. It cost them an early draft pick just to get out from under that albatross of a contract. I loved the move to get Deshaun Watson, but I wouldn’t have made it. Sometimes you should be willing to step away from the table before you lose your shirt. Watson is a franchise player, no doubt, but the move left them without picks in the first two rounds of the draft and still with several holes to fill on the roster.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, the Texans finished the season with a record that even Osweiler might have achieved. They could have been sitting with the 4th and 35th overall picks this year and plenty of choices at quarterback. And with those picks in hand, they wouldn’t have to hold tightly to their mid rounders. They could have put in offers for players like Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, or Damarious Randall. They might have been able to go after offensive tackle Cordy Glenn from the Bills who was traded to the Bengals. While they may have some movable players in Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Lamar Miller and a package of depth players; the reality is that they need to hold on to all their defensive studs, not too many teams would want Miller, and any trade to gain players they need would involve giving away a draft pick or two. They can’t afford it.

I won’t disparage him too much because I doubt that Rick Smith saw this trading frenzy on the horizon. He used his draft picks in the way they’ve been used for quite some time. It may not have been the best way to go but general managers in the NFL can get caught up in the howl of the fans and try to chase the moon and the stars. There’s an old saying in league circles, “If you listen to the fans, it won’t be long until you’re sitting with them.” Smith will be doing just that this season and his successor will do his best to avoid that fate.

It just pains me to think that I saw this trade craze coming and I’m watching as the Texans sit on the sidelines because they don’t have the chips to sit down at the table with anyone. They still have about $61 million in cap space according to spotrac.com and that gives them wiggle room to chase anyone left on Wednesday. If you’re interested in reading about some of their options you can read Lance Zierlein’s piece on offensive line targets here, or A.J. Hoffman’s piece on free agency needs here.

No matter what happens in the next week or two, the inability to even attempt anything via trade because of the need to hoard draft picks has already hurt the Texans this offseason. The right moves from here on out will save this season and with any luck the trading trend will continue next year when the Texans have more to offer before the league year starts.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The Astros need to beat up on the lowly Rangers. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Collectively so far this season the Astros would not make for very good garbage men. Meaning they haven't been so good at taking out the trash. Swept in a series at Detroit when the Tigers were terrible, swept at Minute Maid Park by the sorry Orioles, swept in an early season series at the Rangers. Presently the Rangers are an atrocity. A nine game losing streak has them 35-62, buried deeply in last place in the American League West, 23 games behind the Astros. So the Astros need to whip up on them in this weekend's three game set, before the Astros head west for a three city road trip with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

15. The number of home runs Jose Altuve has hit over his last 37 games. Multiply by four and that's a 60 homers in 148 games pace. Over those 37 games, Altuve is batting just .242. But slugging .577.

.029. Carlos Correa's batting average dating back 10 games played. One hit in his last 34 at bats. 14 strikeouts and just one walk over the stretch. That is what you call a funk. Certainly not a way to curry 300 million dollar contract offers.

The Rangers have just two 100 loss seasons in their history, their first two seasons after becoming the Rangers upon moving from Washington D.C. In 1972 the Ted Williams managed squad went 62-100, Ted quit, and the next year the Rangers finished 57-105. If the Astros sweep them this weekend, the Rangers will be on pace to lose 105 games.

It will be a decade ago this October that the Rangers came as close to winning a World Series as any team has ever come without winning the Series. In 2011 the Rangers carried a three games to two lead into game six at St. Louis. The Rangers led game six 7-5 with two on, two out, and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals' David Freese drilled a ball toward the base of the right field wall. Rangers' right fielder Nelson Cruz didn't make an error but didn't play the ball well, going back awkwardly and reaching out at the last second as if afraid of the wall. It went for a two run triple to tie the game. Two innings later Freese hit a game winning homer to force game seven.

The inning before that the Rangers again came within one strike of winning it all. A Josh Hamilton two run homer had the Rangers up 9-7 going to the bottom of the 10th. The Cards got within 9-8. With the tying run on second and two out, Rangers' Manager Ron Washington opted to intentionally walk Albert Pujols. Albert was still a tremendous player in 2011 (his last with the Redbirds), but he was not better than Lance Berkman that season, definitely not against right-handed pitching. Walking Pujols brought up Berkman to face right-hander Scott Feldman (a matchup of former Astro and future Astro). Berkman lined a two-two pitch to center field tying the game 9-9, ahead of Freese's 11th inning walk-off homer. One of the most incredible games in World Series history.

NCAA

Quite the story hitting that Texas and Oklahoma may be plotting to bolt the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. That neither UT, OU, nor the SEC denied it has smoke billowing. The Sooners have won the last six Big 12 football championships. The Longhorns last won in 2009. Oklahoma St., Kansas St., Baylor, TCU, all have more recently won at least a share of the conference title. An SEC UT could be looking at being in a division with Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M. UT marketing folks should be exploring a huge sponsorship deal with 7-Eleven. You know, Big Gulp. But as usual, follow the money.

The week ahead…

Wednesday: The Texans open training camp! Wait. Delete the exclamation point. Whither Deshaun Watson?

Thursday: The NBA Draft. Unless the Rockets pull off a thunderbolt of a trade to move up to number one and select Cade Cunningham, the winds of opinion are blowing in the direction of the Rockets taking wing Jalen Green second overall pick. That would be fine. Green is generally considered the most potential-laden explosive scorer on the board. The Rockets can use just about everything, a premium wing scorer would be excellent.

Friday: The MLB trade deadline. Does James Click bolster the Astros' shaky bullpen. The Astros have also been linked to Marlins' center fielder Starling Marte. Growing from his wretched start Myles Straw has been plenty acceptable. Free agent-to-be Marte would be a notable upgrade.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. First big beat the deadline win goes to the Rays. 41-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz still mashes. Simple frame of reference: he's been notably better than Yordan Alvarez this year.

2. The delayed by a year 2020 Summer Olympics are underway. Any interest at all?

3. Baseball's greatest Cruzes: Bronze-Jose Jr. Silver-Nelson Gold-Jose Sr.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome