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