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How much cap space do the Houston Texans have in 2021?

We break down the projected available cap space in 2021 for the Texans and notable contract situations.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Salary cap space

As of March 17, 2021, the Texans are projected to have $24,534,669 in cap space for 2021.

The Texans rolled over $9.2 million in 2020 cap space.

March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.

February 12th — J.J. Watt News: The Texans and J.J. Watt have mutually agreed to part ways. The team has released him as of Friday, February 12th, which will clear $17.5 million in cap space. He’ll carry no dead cap for the 2021 season.

The Houston Texans 2020 season proved teams need more than a quarterback to be a solid NFL team. Deshaun Watson did all that could be asked from an elite-level quarterback, but it was nowhere close to enough as the Texans finished 4-12 and fired Bill O’Brien early in the season. Combine that with Watson’s unhappiness with the way the franchise is being run, and it’s not a great situation for the organization right now.

As we wait to see how the Watson drama plays out, it could be an interesting offseason for the Texans. Houston has 21 free agents the new front office will need to figure out, but keeping the franchise quarterback happy should be priority No. 1. Thankfully for Houston, Watson signed an extension in September of 2020.

The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums, and limited fans in a handful of locations. The decrease in gate revenue is going to result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap has been decreased. The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $182.5 million, which is sure to result in some tough choices for many teams.

All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.

Notable contracts

If Watson forced his way out of Houston like some are saying he should, this would be a huge hit to the Texans organization. His recent extension has him playing through the 2025 season with a base salary as high as $35 million in 2022. What happens through this Watson vs. Texans front office drama should be among the top stories going into the offseason.

J.J. Watt had the highest base salary on the roster this season, and we’ve seen this Texans team get rid of stars before including a difference maker at wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins. Watt is surely on the downside of his career at age 31 with a large history of injuries, and he is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022. With one more year on his deal with a $17.5 million base salary, the Texans could look into either signing him to an extension that lowers his 2021 cap number, or maybe even trade the long-time defensive cornerstone.

To keep Watson happy, it would be smart of the Texans to make his job as easy as possible with as many playmakers as possible. Wide receiver Will Fuller is currently an unrestricted free agent. He played with a base salary of $10,162,000 in 2020, by far the most in his career as a pro. Fuller has missed plenty of games with injuries and missed the team’s final five games with a suspension — and will miss Week 1 wherever he signs to close out the suspension. When he’s on the field, Fuller and Watson appear to have a good connection, so we’ll see how this plays out in the offseason.