Tagged in: Houston Texans

Jadeveon Clowney re-signed with Cleveland Browns so he could play again with Deshaun Watson

Jadeveon Clowney admitted Thursday that he ultimately decided he would be re-signing with the Cleveland Browns once he knew quarterback Deshaun Watson was headed to Cleveland, too.

“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year,” the defensive end said when listing the reasons he returned to the Browns.

“Then my boy came here, Deshaun.”

Clowney is coming off a breakout season with the Browns after signing a one-year deal last year. Playing opposite All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, Clowney concluded with nine sacks; both Garrett and Clowney ranked in the top four in the NFL in pass rush win rate.

“Me and [Garrett] did some good things together,” Clowney said as the Browns completed their final minicamp practice at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“We got along well. We played well together. We fed off each other. We’re going to do the same thing this year, even better. … We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going this year.”

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What tipped the scales for Clowney, though, was the chance to play again with Watson, his former teammate with the Houston Texans.

“I was all about where my boy Deshaun was going,” Clowney said. “I just wanted to go play with him and see what I can do with him again.”

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans.

A source told ESPN that Clowney spoke to Watson the week of the trade while Watson was still considering joining the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons and that, in their conversation, Clowney gave Cleveland and the Browns a strong endorsement.

“I told him if he goes [to Cleveland], then I will follow him over here,” Clowney said. “That’s what it came down to.”

It is still unclear when Clowney will actually get to play with Watson, though. Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions.

Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct and the league interviewed the quarterback in person last month as part of its investigation.

At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought the NFL was nearing the end of its investigation but that he couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made. Watson has maintained his innocence, reiterating Tuesday that he never “harassed” or “disrespected” or “forced” any woman.

Clowney said he isn’t worried that a potential Watson suspension could derail Cleveland’s season.

“We’ve got a good defense, we can hold it together,” he said. “We did good last year, and we were banged up on offense all over the place and our defense played well for what we had going on. … We’re going to be all right.”

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RB Mark Ingram traded by Houston Texans, reuniting him with New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have reunited their dynamic running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram by getting Ingram in a trade with the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The deal contains a swap of late-round picks, the source said. NFL Network first reported the trade, the second in two months between the Saints and Texans after New Orleans acquired veteran cornerback Bradley Roby in Week 1.

The Saints desperately needed running back depth after releasing veteran Latavius Murray in September and losing backup Tony Jones Jr. to injury. So they turned to one of the most popular and productive backs in franchise history.

Ingram, 31, spent his first eight campaigns in New Orleans after being drafted in the first round in 2011, tallying 6,007 rushing yards, 1,598 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns before the Saints let him leave as a free agent in 2019. Ingram is just 89 rushing yards behind Deuce McAllister for New Orleans’ franchise record.

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At their peak, Ingram and Kamara were one of the best running back duos in NFL history.

Nicknamed “Boom and Zoom,” they became the first duo ever to both surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season in 2017, and the first in more than 40 years to both make the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Murray proved to be an excellent replacement from 2019 to 2020, while Ingram had success with the Baltimore Ravens. But the Saints missed both veterans this year while relying more than ever on Kamara as a one-man show.

Kamara is on pace to break his career high for carries in a season by more than 100, and he reached 30 touches in a game for just the second time in his career in Monday night’s 13-10 victory at Seattle. Kamara was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

“Aye @markingramII ….. we back,” Kamara tweeted in response to the reported trade.

Ingram was the Texans’ lead back this season, running for 294 yards and a touchdown on 92 carries on a team that ranks last in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

With his trade to New Orleans, the Texans now have four running backs on their roster: veterans David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Rex Burkhead and second-year pro Scottie Phillips. Phillips has been inactive for all but one game this season, but just played on special teams.

Earlier in the month, the Texans moved on from veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who signed with the Green Bay Packers after he was released by the Texans. Mercilus, a first-round pick in 2012, was one of the longest-tenured Texans players on the roster.

Since Ingram signed in Houston, coach David Culley has spoken about the importance of the running back on the roster because of his leadership role in the locker room.

After the trade was reported Wednesday, wide receiver Brandin Cooks appeared to react to the move on Twitter, writing, “This is bulls—. Such a joke.”

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Green Bay Packers complete deal with Houston Texans for Randall Cobb

The Green Bay Packers have formally brought back Randall Cobb, with the team announcing a trade with the Houston Texans for its longtime receiver Wednesday night.

Green Bay said they sent Houston an undisclosed draft pick in return. A source told ESPN that the Packers only had to give up a sixth-round pick and got the Texans to eat $3 million of Cobb’s salary; the cap hit on the Packers will be slightly under $3 million.

Cobb, who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Aaron Rodgers’ go-to receivers — especially in the slot.

Earlier Wednesday, Cobb tweeted: “I’M COMING HOME!”

He left in free agency following the 2018 season and spent one year with the Dallas Cowboys. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Houston, where he played 10 matches last season — one more than he did during his final season in Green Bay, where he battled lingering hamstring problems.

He suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He concluded with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns.

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Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure.

To fill that void in their offense, the Packers drafted Amari Rodgers in the third round of this year’s draft.

Apparently, Rodgers-to-Cobb had a better ring to it than Rodgers-to-Rodgers, but it’s unclear if bringing back Cobb was a condition of Rodgers’ return or merely a suggestion that the Packers decided to honor.

When Cobb left the Packers, he did so ranked sixth in franchise history with 470 catches and 11th in both receiving yards (5,524) and touchdown catches (41). His best season came in 2014, when he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was one of two times in his career in which he did not miss a game.

While Cobb’s role is yet to be determined and could hinge largely on his facility to stay healthy, he also could help mentor Amari Rodgers.

There’s already a connection between the two; Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, coached Cobb in college at Kentucky. The trade no doubt will include a contract restructure for Cobb, who was scheduled to make $8.25 million this season.

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Deshaun Watson met with Houston Texans coach David Culley, still wants to be traded

Quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Houston Texans coach David Culley last Friday, according to sources, and informed Culley that he has no plan of suiting up for the team again.

Upset over the way the organization has operated in recent years, Watson has asked the Texans to trade him and has had very little contact with the team since the season ended.

The conversation with Culley is believed to have been the first between the two. Culley said in his introductory news conference that he expected Watson to be on the team in 2021.

But according to the sources, Watson’s message to Culley in Friday’s meeting was that nothing has changed on his end and he still would like to be traded. So far, the Texans have told interested teams that they don’t intend to trade Watson, who just last summer signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension that runs through 2025.

Trading Watson would cost the Texans $21.6 million in dead money against this year’s salary cap — a significant hit since his cap number if he’s on the team is just $15.94 million.

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Any team acquiring the young superstar would get a tremendous bargain in 2021, as Watson is arranged to earn just $10.54 million in salary this year before that number jumps to $35 million in 2022, $37 million in 2023 and $32 million each in 2024 and 2025.

If the Texans choose not to trade Watson, he could opt not to report to mandatory team activities or training camp, but at a cost.

Houston can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp and can fine him $50,000 per day for each day of training camp missed, plus one week’s salary — $620,000 — for each preseason game missed. In the unlikely scenario that Watson chooses to retire, the Texans can collect $21.6 million.

Watson’s trade request came after he was reportedly unhappy with the process used by the team to hire new general manager Nick Caserio in early January.

Watson set career highs in the 2020 season in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions. His 33 touchdowns and 4,823 passing yards were single-season franchise records.

He is the NFL’s career leader in completion percentage at 67.8%, ahead of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In 2020, Watson became just the 11th player in NFL history to complete at least 70% of his passes in a season.

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Houston Texans WR Will Fuller, CB Bradley Roby suspended six games under NFL’s PED policy

Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended for six matches for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Fuller stated the violation was a result of his taking prescribed medication not permitted under the policy.

“Earlier this year, I sought treatment from a medical professional who prescribed medication that he believed to be permitted under the NFL’s drug policy,” Fuller wrote on Instagram.

“As it turns out, my trust in this professional was misplaced because this medication was NOT an acceptable substance under the NFL Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances.

“As a result of this mistake, I have been suspended for six games for taking this prohibited medication. I want to sincerely apologize to the Texans organization and all of my fans for this mistake. I am looking forward to putting this all behind me and returning better than ever in 2021.”

“His hunger to get on the end of things is the key for a centre-forward. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn’t but to score you have to be in there.”

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Roby, in a tweet Monday night in which he apologized to his family and teammates, stated that a “few months ago, I unknowingly used a product that was contaminated with a banned substance by the NFL. I recognize that it is my job to know, and be responsible for, everything I put in my body.”

Both suspensions will start with the final five games of this campaign and end with the first of the 2021 season.

Fuller, 26, is coming off his best game of the season — in a year full of impressive performances — versus the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, when he added six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns to his impressive 2020 totals.

Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Through 11 games, Fuller has more receiving yards and touchdowns than the Texans’ former No. 1 wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, had for Houston at this point last season.

After missing 22 games in his first four seasons in the NFL, Fuller had not missed a game this season.

He was playing on his fifth-year option and will be a free agent after the season. With Fuller suspended, Randall Cobb on injured reserve and Kenny Stills recently released, the Texans (4-7) are left with four wide receivers: Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Isaiah Coulter and Steven Mitchell, who is on the practice squad.

With Roby, 28, suspended, the Texans lose their top cornerback and are left with Vernon Hargreaves and Phillip Gaines as their top two remaining players at the position. Cornerback Gareon Conley, acquired for a third-round pick during the 2019 season, has been on injured reserve all season.

In 10 games this season, Roby has 37 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract in March.

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Detroit Lions fire head coach Matt Patricia, general manager Bob Quinn

The Detroit Lions have fired coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the team revealed Saturday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the Lions’ interim coach, per an informed source.

Patricia’s firing comes two days after the Lions suffered a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day, which put the team’s record at 4-7.

Patricia was asked about his job security in the immediate aftermath of the loss. “On behalf of my family, I want to thank Bob and Matt for their hard work and their dedication to the Lions organization over the past several years,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp stated during a Zoom call presser Saturday afternoon.

“They’re both very fine men, and we wish them nothing but the best in the rest of their careers. Obviously, this season has not gone the way we expected. We want to take the rest of this year to assess every aspect of our football operation, find the best individuals to lead and coach our team.”

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Ahead of the 2020 season, Lions ownership made it clear to Patricia and Quinn that the team needed to be playoff contenders this campaign. After losing four of their last five after Week 12, ownership materialized the writing on the wall.

Patricia amassed a 13-29-1 record in his two-plus seasons as Lions head coach.

Patricia was hired by the Lions in 2018 after serving as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator for six years.

Patricia succeeded Jim Caldwell, who was fired by the Lions after four seasons as coach. Caldwell had three winning seasons during his time in Detroit and made the playoffs twice. Since Patricia’s hiring, the Lions rank in the bottom 10 in scoring, total and pass defense, and they are tied for fewest takeaways (43) in the NFL since 2018.

The Lions’ .314 triumph percentage during Patricia’s tenure ranked 27th in the NFL. Patricia has the worst career win percentage by any coach whose teams averaged 21-plus points per match in the Super Bowl era (minimum 40 games coached).

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Chiefs start title defense with 34-20 victory over Texans

Just about the only thing that looked familiar about the NFL’s long-awaited return Thursday night was the sight of Patrick Mahomes effortlessly leading the Kansas City Chiefs up and down the field.

The Super Bowl MVP threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through the rain for 138 yards and another score, and the Chiefs started defense of their first championship in 50 years by defeating the Houston Texans 34-20 on Thursday night before a socially distanced crowd of about 17,000 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill each caught TD passes for the Chiefs. They have won 10 consecutive dating to last season. That run includes a come-from-behind 51-31 victory over the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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The Texans’ Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score, but he also was under relentless pressure and was intercepted once.

David Johnson provided the biggest bright spot for Houston, running for 77 yards and a score.

The world has changed dramatically in the seven months since the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Miami.

Within six weeks, the term COVID-19 had become a part of everyday life, the disease killing more than 900,000 people around the globe. The death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer in May touched off the Black Lives Matter movement, which in turn has led to a summer of social unrest that has gripped the country.

Against that backdrop came an NFL opener unlike any other: masks worn by everyone from fans to the coaching staffs; a series of videos raising awareness of social justice initiatives and encouraging the public to vote; and ultimately both teams locking arms in a display of unity previous to the coin toss.

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Houston J.J Watt says it’s still too early to make call on playing

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said Wednesday that it’s too early for players to make a decision on whether they’ll play this campaign given the many unknowns that remain with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve been on the NFLPA calls the last couple times we’ve had them,” Watt said on a conference call when asked whether he’s made a decision on whether to play.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere … I don’t think we’re at a point yet where people are making that decision because we don’t have enough information yet to be making decisions like that. So I think that it’s a very fluid process, and I think it keeps coming up. Obviously … the report date gets closer and closer. But as of right now, we really don’t have enough information to make a decision like that, I would say.”

The Texans report to training camp July 25. They are programed to open the season at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10.

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Watt was asked whether he believes it is necessary to play preseason matches. The league canceled the NFL’s preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game and shortened the preseason from four games per team to two in order to help players acclimate to being back on the field after going through a virtual offseason program. Last week, a source told ESPN that the NFL Players Association’s board of player representatives voted to recommend canceling all 2020 preseason games.

“If the doctors and the PA doctors decide that it’s not in the best safety interest of the players to have them, then we don’t have to,” Watt said. “But I also at the same time think about undrafted guys and the guys who make a roster in the fourth preseason game and how special that is and how many opportunities would be missed from that. So I’m on both sides of the fence.

“I think obviously as a vet, personally do I think that preseason games for somebody in my situation is absolutely necessary? I would say, I don’t think so. But I think there are a whole bunch of people who need those opportunities and who live for those opportunities. I mean, it can literally change a life. So I see, I see the other side of it where somebody could literally have their entire dream come true because of those games, so that’s a very difficult debate to have.”

Watt stated he hoped the NFL was looking at the way the other leagues are operating in their attempts to return to play.

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Texans special teams coach Brad Seely retiring after 31 NFL seasons

Houston Texans special teams coordinator Brad Seely will be retiring from coaching after 31-campaigns of coaching the team revealed on Friday. Seely has been instrumental in turning around the Texans special teams unit since he arrived in 2018. 

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend over 30 years in the NFL coaching the game I love,” said Seely in a statement. “I want to thank each and every coach, player and staff member I worked with from when I entered the league in 1989 until now. I’ve been blessed to be a part of some of the best organizations in professional sports and I will forever cherish the friendships and memories I’ve made around the league.”

Seely is retiring after 31 seasons coaching in the NFL.

Seely served as a team’s special teams coordinator in every season from 1989 to 2019 and owns 41 years of overall coaching experience. He appeared in nine conference championship games, conquered three Super Bowls and coached 10 different players to 17 special teams Pro Bowl selections.

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“Brad Seely is one of the best special teams coaches in NFL history and his contributions to the game have been unparalleled,” said Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien. “I first met Brad when we were both assistant coaches in New England and immediately recognized his ability to connect with his players and teach them about the game in his own unique way. Brad has won at every stop in his 30-year career and his résumé of three Super Bowl victories and five conference championship appearances speaks for itself. It was an honor and privilege to coach alongside Brad and I will always consider him a friend. On behalf of the entire Texans organization, we wish him and his family the best in his retirement.”

The Texans have assistant special team coach Tracy Smith who has spent 10 of his 11 campaigns in the NFL as Seely’s assistant coaching special teams.  Seely started his NFL career coaching the Indianapolis Colts (1989-1993), New York Jets (1994), Carolina Panthers (1995-1998), New England Patriots (1999-2008), Cleveland Browns (2009-2010), San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014) and Oakland Raiders (2015-2017) before joining the Texans in 2018.

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Rams trade Brandin Cooks to Texans

The Los Angeles Rams are trading receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the teams hadn’t informed the trade. The NFL Network reported the Rams will get a second-round pick while sending a future fourth-rounder to Houston.

Cooks will help the Texans replace DeAndre Hopkins, who was shockingly traded to the Arizona Cardinals last month for running back David Johnson and two draft picks.

While Cooks hasn’t matched Hopkins’ superstar play, Cooks is a fast, steady deep threat who has five 50-reception seasons over his six-year career. Cooks posted 1,000-yard seasons for each of his first three NFL teams: New Orleans, New England and Los Angeles.

Cooks, a California native who spent his first three campaigns with the Saints, played the past two years for the Rams after they acquired him from the Patriots. Los Angeles gave him an $81m contract extension through 2023 before he played a game for the team.

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Cooks played in back-to-back Super Bowls, suiting up for New England in early 2018 and for the Rams in early 2019.

He caught 80 passes for 1,204 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 with the Rams’ NFC championship team.

But Cooks managed a career-low 42 catches for just 583 yards last season while overcoming the latest in a series of concussions. He had only 15 catches after Week 7, and he sat out for two games after incurring a concussion during the Rams’ game against Cincinnati in London.

Cooks has incurred at least five concussions during his NFL career. He didn’t play for four weeks after his most recent concussion, seeking additional medical help during that stretch.

Although Houston still has receivers Kenny Stills, Will Fuller and Randall Cobb, the Texans clearly wanted another veteran target for Deshaun Watson after they moved on from Hopkins and his steadily spectacular production. Hopkins, who has five career 1,000-yard seasons, caught roughly one-third of Watson’s completions over the past three years.

Cooks joins running back Todd Gurley in the offseason exodus of veteran talent from the Rams. Cooks and Gurley, the former AP Offensive Player of the Year, were essential components of coach Sean McVay’s offense over the past two seasons.

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