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Why Trent Williams to the Texans rumors make no sense

Why Trent Williams to the Texans rumors make no sense
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Laremy Tunsil

It seemed like an innocent enough story that broke late last week. "Redskins trade rumors: Trent Williams move interests Cardinals, Texans."

Williams is a left tackle, and a damned good one when healthy. He has not been that for several years, but players of his ilk are hard to come by. Still, the Texans being interested does not make a lot of sense. They already have a Pro Bowl left tackle who they gave up two No. 1s and a No. 2 for in Laremy Tunsil, and a promising young right tackle that they drafted in the first round last season in Titus Howard.

Why the rumors?

For the first time in years, the Texans will have some stability on the offensive line, with both tackles, second-year guard Max Scharping and veteran center Nick Martin locked into starting roles. Zach Fulton, the other guard, is also under contract for another season. The story above seems to imply the Texans would want to keep Williams and Tunsil. In that scenario, Howard would presumably move inside to guard.

Why that seems silly

However, Howard was playing his best at tackle, so moving him does not seem to be a positive. In addition, Williams will have to be paid top tackle money, and Tunsil is already in line for that. Plus the Texans have little to offer in the way of trade. So Williams being on their radar in that scenario does not really add up. Investing $20 mil per year apiece in two tackles when you already are set there and have other needs? Not to mention giving up assets to get the second one?

Unless...

The other scenario is the Texans have decided they aren't going to pay Tunsil, which would be a huge mistake considering the investment they made to get him. He is also under contract for this season and can be franchised next year, so even if they can't reach a longterm deal, they would have him for two more seasons. But if they are choosing to move on from him and that would somehow be part of the deal for Williams...well, that is senseless too.

Williams is 31 years old, has not played as many as 12 games since 2016 and did not play at all last year. He will want a contract in the $20 million per year range, which is what it will cost to keep Tunsil, who is only 25 and has missed just six games in four years, just made his first Pro Bowl and has a year in the system under his belt. Not to mention the draft capital you invested to get him. Punting on him now for Williams would be just plain dumb.

Surely it is just a rumor...

And while the organization's direction under Dictator Bill O'Brien remains unclear, this is not something that seems feasible. So it has to be just a rumor, right? The Texans should be focused on getting Tunsil locked up long term, and filling some holes on defense in free agency. Another big OL contract - or replacing a younger player with a similar deal to what he is looking for - is beyond baffling. It would be by far the worst move of the O'Brien GM era and could set the franchise back years.

And let's be fair; as GM so far, O'Brien has not been bad. The Tunsil move looks good assuming they get him signed. The trade for Carlos Hyde was a win. Adding Gareon Conley for a third was a solid move. Trading away Jadeveon Clowney for pennies on the dollar was his one move you could look at say it was a bad decision.

This one would be significantly worse.

So far, in four big moves, O'Brien is 3-1. So the hope is this is all just speculation and the Texans have no real interest in Williams.

The top priorities should be a No. 1 cornerback, finding another running back to replace Hyde and trying to add to the pass rush. The Texans invested heavily in the offensive line last season, and that group looks promising. Why mess with it now?

Texans fans can only hope it is just a false rumor, one that has no basis in fact, because either Williams scenario would be a mistake, one the Texans can't afford and don't need to make.

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How significant Astros spring training revelation highlights even more reasons for optimism

The Houston Astros had a very successful season in 2023 which led them back to the ALCS for the seventh-straight season, but despite another deep playoff run, their pitching did regress from the prior year.

While many would point to their historic bullpen in 2022 and say they had nowhere to go but down, that doesn't paint the full picture. It was the starting rotation that really fell off in 2023. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Jose Urquidy all saw a spike in their ERAs from the previous season.

According to a recent report from The Athletic's Chandler Rome, we might have an explanation for Jose Urquidy's down year.

The Astros and Urquidy believe he was tipping his pitches. Which would explain why the slugging percentage against his fastball jumped from .482 in 2022 to .632 in 2023.

When hitters know a pitcher is tipping, they often start hunting fastballs. Also, his strikeout percentage went down last year and his walks went way up. He had 2 more walks per nine innings in 2023 than he had in 2021.

Part of that could be him aiming for corners and refusing to give in to hitters because his fastball wasn't performing up to expectations.

His WHIP in 2023 really jumped off the page as well. He finished with a WHIP over 1.4. While his career WHIP is 1.143. That's a huge difference.

Back to the big picture

Until last season, Urquidy never finished with an ERA over 3.95. He recorded a 5.29 ERA last year. So when we factor in his shoulder injury that cost him three months of the season, and the fact he was tipping pitches, we believe he's in store for a bounce-back season.

And the Astros are going to need him, especially with Justin Verlander and JP France possibly not being available for the start of the season.

What will the rotation look like early on?

The Astros haven't ruled Verlander out yet, so he could be ready to go. But if not, and we base this off what we saw last season. The rotation will likely include Valdez, Javier, Brown, Urquidy, Ronel Blanco, and Brandon Bielak.

Don't miss the video above for the full discussion!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) with Charlie Pallilo, Brandon Strange, and Josh Jordan every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

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