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Houston Texans 2022 free-agency outlook

The Texans head into 2022 free agency coming off a 4-13 season. We break down their free agents, cap space, and more.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans’ 2021 season finished much in the same way it started: a coaching search and a cloudy outlook with quarterback Deshaun Watson. The team dragged its feet for weeks before tabbing Baltimore Ravens wide receivers coach David Culley as its new headman, replacing Bill O’Brien. Meanwhile, Watson prepared for a protracted standoff with management, requesting a trade and refusing to play another down for Houston.

Culley’s first year as a head coach proved to be as rocky as expected. The Texans won just one of its first nine games — a 37-21 season-opening win over the similarly feckless Jacksonville Jaguars — and would notch only three more victories the rest of the way. Watson did not take part in any of the action, sidelined by his desire for a trade as well as 22 civil suits alleging sexual misconduct by the quarterback. Those cases, along with an ongoing criminal probe, further complicate his future.

In Watson’s absence, veteran Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills shared quarterbacking duties. Taylor made just six starts — two at the beginning of the season, four after returning from a hamstring injury — before giving way to Davis for the remainder of the season. Following a Week 18 loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Texans fired Culley.

The lack of long-term clarity at quarterback along with a roster in need of significant overhaul define the Texans as they enter the offseason. The responsibility for improving the team’s fortunes falls primarily on general manager Nick Caserio and new head coach Lovie Smith.

Last season’s salary cap number dropped to $182.5 million as the league dealt with the pandemic, but the 2022 cap will rebound to $208 million, according to Over The Cap. That increase should loosen a few team pocketbooks this offseason.

Franchise- and transition-tag possibilities

The Texans have 31 players set to reach unrestricted free agency this offseason, and none seem like viable tag candidates. Defensive back Desmond King has performed at a high level in the past but struggled in 2021. Arguably the next best of the group, safety Justin Reid, took a step back the past two seasons after a solid 2019 campaign and might not have a future in Houston.

Salary cap

Estimated 2022 cap space: $17.6 million (as of Feb. 17)

Notable unrestricted free agents

Houston Texans 2022 UFAs

Player Pos. 2021 Team Snaps Age 2022 Team
Player Pos. 2021 Team Snaps Age 2022 Team
Desmond King CB Texans 80.70% 28
Christian Kirksey LB Texans 68.70% 30
Justin Reid S Texans 67.90% 25
Kamu Grugier-Hill LB Texans 67.70% 28
Justin Britt C Texans 62.90% 31
Jacob Martin EDGE Texans 60.80% 27
Chris Conley WR Texans 58.40% 30
Geron Christian LT Texans 55.20% 26
Maliek Collins IDL Texans 54.80% 27
Pharaoh Brown TE Texans 53.60% 28
DeMarcus Walker EDGE Texans 37.60% 28
Jon Weeks LS Texans 31.20% 36
Jordan Akins TE Texans 30.70% 30
Tyrod Taylor QB Texans 30.30% 33
David Johnson RB Texans 29.70% 31
Antony Auclair TE Texans 29.60% 29
Lane Taylor LG Texans 29.20% 33
Eric Wilson LB Texans 26.60% 28
Neville Hewitt LB Texans 25.70% 29
Jaleel Johnson IDL Texans 22.90% 28
Chris Moore WR Texans 21.50% 29
Royce Freeman RB Texans 19.80% 26
Danny Amendola WR Texans 15.90% 37
Terrence Brooks S Texans 15.60% 30
Chris Smith EDGE Texans 7.80% 30
Cole Toner RG Texans 6.40% 28
A.J. Moore CB Texans 3.00% 27
Vincent Taylor IDL Texans 2.30% 28
Hardy Nickerson LB Texans 0.80% 28
Jeff Driskel QB Texans 0.00% 29
Tae Davis LB Texans 0.00% 26