Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Texans could strike while the iron is cold.
Former GM Rick Smith left the Texans like an evil genie. He granted us our wish of a franchise QB in Deshaun Watson, but at the expense of a year with Brock Osweiler at QB and two unique blockbuster trades zapping all of our draft capital for the next two seasons. The first of two trades that capped Smith’s tenure was praised as one of the most creative deals in NFL history.
Back then, the Cleveland Browns entered the 2017 offseason with enough cap space to finance the Louisiana Purchase six times. They were looking to leverage all that financial flexibility to acquire a surplus of draft picks in the 2017 and 2018 NFL Drafts. To do this, they needed a trade partner so willing, so desperate, to jettison a player off their team that said team would sweeten the deal by compromising their own future. This future Brown would have to be someone so acidic to his prior team’s future that the prospect of doing something productive with those draft picks would be nullified if that player was still on the team.
Enter the Houston Texans and Brock Osweiler. With their collective heads in the sand and index fingers pointed at each other in blame for the blunder of signing Osweiler as a free agent. Mind you, this same front office pursued Osweiler in a bidding war with Osweiler’s former (and future) employer, the Denver Broncos. Now, not even a year later, the Texans were back in the QB market, looking to ship their once future franchise QB to anyone willing to absorb his egregious contract. Otherwise, the Texans would take a $10M cap hit by releasing Osweiler outright.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter explained what was then viewed as a groundbreaking deal as such:
“To be exact, Houston saves $16 million in cash and $10 million against their cap this season. The Texans also will get the Browns’ fourth-round pick this year in exchange for their own 6th-round pick. So Cleveland gets Osweiler’s contract, a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-round pick, and Houston gets Cleveland’s 2017 fourth-round pick, saves $10 million in salary-cap space and $16 million in cash.”
According to our friends at Spotrac who track all things salary cap, contracts, and payroll, the Texans should enter the 2020 offseason with more than $87M in available cap space. That’s enough to trade another team straight cash to take a player off their books and start over. What team could be so frustrated with a player, so demoralized by that player’s recent play, that it could put the next three years in jeopardy?
The Chicago Bears. Currently 3-5 and last in the NFC North, the Bears are in a state of perpetual turmoil as nothing seems to go right for them in 2019. This is the same team that traded their first round picks in 2019 and in 2020 to acquire Khalil Mack just over a year ago. Supposedly, the Bears are in “win now” mode, but that was under the assumption that Trubisky was going to pan out at a future starting NFL QB. He has only thrown five touchdowns this season over seven games played. If you’ve watched any Chicago Bears football this season, you’ve witnessed the paralysis poor QB play can have on an entire franchise. Three years into his career, the former second overall pick is best known as the guy the Bears took instead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky is struggling to succeed in what should be a perfect scenario. Allen Robinson is an elite WR. Trubisky has two solid RBs to hand the ball off to. There’s a young and creative head coach at the helm and a solid defense to back him up.
Without getting too deep into what’s going on in another man’s head, the Bears should be looking to shop Trubisky at the end of the season. A clean slate is needed for both parties. And who better than the venerable Houston Texans to wash another team’s dirty dishes, to see what they can scrounge out of the leftover scraps?
If the Texans were to offer to acquire Trubisky in trade, it would obviously be with the understanding that Trubisky would be a backup while DW4 continues to start and shine. O’Brien and Houston’s coaching staff would groom and re-train Trubisky, trying to mold him into the QB he was destined to be. Destiny would just be sitting on our bench, waiting for its turn, almost surely in another city and theoretically available in trade to another QB starved team after Trubisky rehabilitated his image.
Why would Chicago make such a deal? Time. Desperate for immediate success and with a front office that can ill afford to sit around much longer waiting for Trubisky to mature as a QB, Chicago should be willing to shop Trubisky for whatever they can get their hands on. Since they’ve already traded their first round pick, they would likely look to sign the best QB available in free agency. To do so, they’d need as much available salary cap room as possible to pay for the necessary rate for a high caliber QB.
The only qualm with replicating the Osweiler trade would be the draft compensation the Texans would receive. Trubisky’s contract is not nearly as horrific as Osweiler’s. That means there’s less negative cap space the Texans would be forced to eat by taking on Trubisky. While the Texans sent a second round draft pick along with Osweiler to Cleveland, the Bears would most likely send a future third or fourth round pick in 2021 instead. But other than a one or two round difference, if the Texans could walk out of this trade with a backup QB, a 2020 sixth-round pick, and a 2021 third-round pick in exchange for $12-16M in cap space and a 2020 fourth-round pick, it could be a pretty solid move for the franchise.