Farewell Houston

Patrick Creighton: Texans look cheap in cutting Derek Newton

The Texans cut Derek Newton despite being thin at tackle. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Reports Thursday have indicated the Houston Texans will release OT Derek Newton, who has been working his way back from double torn patella tendons suffered Week 7 of the 2016 season and have kept him out of action since.

A double patella tear in a 6’6” 315 lb. man is a devastating injury, yet Newton has worked his tail off to return to the field. Newton had been cleared by doctors to participate in the Texans offseason program, but the team has decided to part ways with him anyway.

Newton, a 7th rd. pick out of Arkansas State in 2011, progressed quickly under head coach Bill O’Brien after struggling in former coach Gary Kubiak’s system. Newton was the team’s starting right tackle, and even spelled some at left tackle when needed. He also played guard at times due to injuries on the line, and displayed his versatility well.

Newton was due a $500k roster bonus on April 1, which the team has not paid yet, and is refusing to pay, claiming he could not pass a physical.

For a team that is in dire straits at offensive tackle, this seems to be a strange position to take.

We already know teams can flunk guys on physicals for anything, and that it can be a shady process used to get out of deals a team has second thoughts on. Considering Newton was just cleared by doctors, and the Texans are very weak at tackle, why not keep a guy on your roster that has shown in the past he can be a solid tackle?

Newton has had an incredibly tough road to hoe, but he’s done it, and continues to do so. It would still be an uphill climb for him to get ready for opening day, but it’s possible he could help the team this year.  So what’s with the hurry to let him go and stiff him on the bonus?

The bonus is only $500k. The Texans still have over $32M of cap space available. It’s not like they needed the money to make another move to replace him. They had all the opportunity in the world in free agency to sign players. It doesn’t make sense to cut a guy who may be able to help your team during the season over $500k when you don’t need the money. What are you saving it for?

Newton has been a good soldier for the Texans. He even agreed to restructure his contract last year to alleviate the team of longer term liability to him if he couldn’t make it back. Originally set to make $4.75M for 2017-2019 in base salary, he accepted a reduction to $1.75M guaranteed 2017 and non-guaranteed salaries of $2.25M for 2018 and $2M for 2019. He would have a chance to recoup the lost money in per-game active roster bonuses.

Bottom line: The Texans cut a guy returning from injury who was just cleared by doctors who wasn’t making much money, when they have more money than they can spend at this point, and who plays a position they are desperate for help at.  

Forgive me but that makes zero sense.

I could certainly understand if Newton had not been cleared. However, he has been cleared by none other than world renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, and was successfully doing one legged squats.  

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien offered testimony to Newton’s work ethic on the comeback trail.

"Nobody's worked harder than Derek Newton to try to get back to where he's at. That guy's been in there every single day at 6 a.m., five days a week. He probably comes in on the weekends on his own.”

Yet the team is abandoning all hope on him and stiffing him on the roster bonus.

For a team that drastically needs all the offensive tackles it can find, this comes across as the ultimate penny pinch.

 

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Straight Heat” 9p-12a CT on SB Nation Radio & SportsMap 94.1FM Houston.  He also hosts “Nate & Creight” Sundays 12-5p CT on SB Nation Radio & SportsMap 94.1 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

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Could James Harden end up in Philly? Composite image by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday, the sports world inside Houston went ballistic after Daryl Morey signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers to become their new President of Basketball Operations. After Morey signed with the 76ers, Tilman Fertitta and Rockets new GM Rafael Stone decided on the Houston Rockets next head coach, which is Stephen Silas. Could Morey and Fertitta be playing chess?

It was reported that the 76ers' office was in contact with Morey after his departure from the Rockets. When leaving the Rockets, Fertitta told Tim MacMahon of ESPN that Morey wanted to go to the Eastern Conference. Now that Morey is with the 76ers, he could possibly be looking to trade for James Harden. Bringing Harden to the 76ers could open a better pathway to the NBA Finals.

Stephen A. Smith believes Harden is the key piece to pair with Joel Embiid for a Finals appearance. Morey has pulled off countless trades for the Rockets' organization so his negotiation skills are not in question.

"I'm Daryl Morey, the first thing I'm trying to do is get [James] Harden to become a [Philadelphia] 76er," as Smith told co-host Max Kellerman on ESPN's First Take. "Even if it means trading Ben Simmons."

Although 76er fans would get excited about Harden coming to Philly, Stone and Fertitta shut the idea down. As MacMahon reported that it would be a hard no from the Rockets' front office. Honestly, it's a wise decision that the Rockets hold on to Harden, as he has three more years left on his contract. MacMahon explained more of the reasoning on why the Rockets are cashing in on Harden's prime on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast.

"What I can say is right now the Rockets are 100 percent committed to cash in on [James] Harden's prime," as MacMahon told Woj on his podcast. "They consider him the best player in the league."

Keeping an eye on Fertitta and Morey's relationship is critical because of their past rapport. Fertitta did mention to MacMahon that they will keep in touch when it comes to strategizing towards the Finals. So it won't come as a surprise if a trade happens between the Rockets and 76ers at a later time.

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