Pendergast: 5-point plan for Texans' rebuild


If the Texans are going to move on from Deshaun Watson and completely tear down the roster, here is what they need to do over the next several weeks.

1. Look to 2022 and beyond. That's when you're really going to start deploying assets and spend cap money. Don't be afraid to take draft picks in 2022 and beyond, because some teams might be willing to give up more then.

People love to kick the can down the road. Paying in 2022 for Deshaun Watson now could appeal to teams. Don't be so hellbent on stocking up in 2021 if teams will give you even more in 2022.

Plus, the last thing you need to do is something that makes you better as a team in 2021. You're going for the No. 1 overall pick next year.

So with both draft equity and the salary cap, don't do anything silly.

2. Sign cheap, recently released veterans to free agent contracts.

There are going to be a bunch of free agents out there who got released from existing contracts (like J.J. Watt, for example). When you sign those free agents, they don't count toward the compensatory pick formula.

In other words, you don't lose compensatory picks for losing some of your own free agents by signing guys who were released, rather than the ones from expiring contracts.

The Justin Britt signing comes to mind.

Focus on these players. Get them on cheap, one-year deals. Muck your way through this year and don't do anything to ruin the potential for getting compensatory picks for players like Will Fuller.

3. Franchise tag Will Fuller.

I'm still on this bandwagon, even if they trade Watson. It's not necessarily based on wanting Fuller long term, as much as his value in a potential trade. I think Fuller has value around the league.

If you could flip Fuller for a third-round pick, or include him in a Watson trade to get more out of the team you trade with, it would be worth it to franchise him.

4. Flip big contracts.

Veterans on potential cap-saving deals, like Bradley Roby, Brandin Cooks or maybe even Laremy Tunsil.

See what the market is and don't be afraid to flip these large contracts if a team makes a reasonable offer. It opens up cap space, brings back draft equity and that's what you want for a rebuild.

5. Trade Deshaun Watson to the New York Jets.

After creating a robust market by getting teams involved and actually accepting phone calls, not sending them to voicemail, trade Watson to the Jets.

This is the only team with two first-round picks this year and next year. They have young pieces, specifically defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who could be a foundational player for Houston on that side of the ball.

And it's not just the Jets having the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft.

I'm about 2022. So, I'm fine with the Texans trading for the No. 2 pick and flipping it for more picks next year.

This is also the one suitor that should still be pretty bad in 2021, even with Watson, as opposed to the Miami Dolphins.