Houston Texans have kept Brandin Cooks as well as Laremy Tusil. They are showing that they believe they could win with Davis Mills – Houston Texans Blog

HOUSTON — The aftermath of the Houston TexansQB traded away Deshaun WatsonIt would have been simple for the franchise's to trade the few veterans it had left in order to give Nick Caserio a more blank slate to start building a team.

Caserio instead signed wide receiver Brandin CooksContract extension for two years and retained left tackle Laremy TunsilConverting his base salary into a signing bonus, which effectively ties him to his employer for the remaining two-years of his contract.

By keeping those two players, the Texans are not only showing they’re not totally against winning, but that they want to give Davis MillsA legitimate chance to be their quarterback of tomorrow.

The Texans have given Mills (a third-round draft pick in 2021) consistency in their coaching staff by promoting Lovie Smith, defensive coordinator, and passing game coordinator, and Pep Hamilton, quarterbacks coach, to be head coach and offensive coordinator.

When the Texans drafted Mills last year, they had no clarity on Watson’s future, no first- or second-round picks and little hope that they’d be competing for a playoff spot in the near future. While Mills struggled at first after veteran Tyrod TaylorWith a left hamstring injury in Week 2, he showed enough improvement down the stretch of the season when he again replaced Taylor, who struggled after returning from injury, to earn the opportunity to compete for the Texans’ starting job this season.

“It’s huge that we signed [Cooks] back,” Mills said. “I’m extremely excited to continue working with him. He's a tremendous talent, and he makes it very difficult for defenses to plan to stop him. … He’s also a great leader for our team.”

While Cooks and Tunsil were clearly a great addition to the Texans, Caserio might have been wise to let the larger contracts go and concentrate on the next draft's quarterback.

Cooks received a contract with Caserio that paid Cooks an average of $19.8 million for the next two years and $36 million guaranteed. ESPN sources claim that Cooks was being traded by the Texans to make room for a second-rounder.

Five of the top 80 draft picks, including No. 1, are already held by the Texans. The Browns have the 13th and 3rd picks via the Watson trade. The two first-rounders are more than they’ve had in the last four drafts combined.

Caserio spoke out about building the right culture when he was hired in January 2021. By turning over the roster and signing senior players to one or two-year contracts, he tried to improve a situation in which Watson and the defensive end were the only faces of the franchise. J.J. WattDecide to leave.

After a season that Caserio called “not as much outcome-oriented as process-oriented,” he re-signed several of the players who he felt were part of the “foundational culture” that features players who are “tough-minded, who are selfless, who are going to work hard every day, and they’re going to compete their a– off.”

Houston signed the linebackers Christian Kirksey Kamu Grugier-HillCenter Justin BrittCornerback Desmond King II.

“The people that he signed back, the people that he brought in, you could look at them and they’re just high-effort leaders who have won a lot of games and know what it takes,” Britt said. “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can [say] that I’ll show up every day the same way.”

And while Kirksey said building a culture “doesn’t happen overnight,” it’s clear Caserio and Smith believe retaining those key players, like Cooks and Tunsil, is key to building a winner in Houston.

“It’s a process that’s put in place, and the guys that are brought back on the team are part of that culture that [Caserio] is trying to build,” Kirskey said. “But the next step, to me, is trusting. We’ve got the right guys, now we’ve got to trust the system. We’ve got to trust what the coaches are saying. Our coaches must have faith in us to be able to do the work. I think that’s the next part. Right now, we’re building that trust with one another.

“As you know, there are going to be more additions to the team in the draft, and now they have to hop on board to the culture that we set. It doesn't matter if we have had a [four-win] season doesn’t mean that work wasn’t done in that season last year. I think that we’re stirring the pot. I think that we’re continuing to put the right ingredients to what we want to be and who we want to be. We’ve just got to continue to trust it and things will happen.”

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