Contract Points: AFC South


We hope you're enjoying this old content for FREE. You can view more current content marked with a FREE banner, but you'll have to sign up in order to access our other articles and content!

Contract Points: AFC South

In our continuing series of examining contracts and potentially future changes at skill positions for NFL teams, we'll move on to another division to the AFC South, where we could see a lot of personnel changes in short order — particularly with the Houston Texans.

And in a strange twist, the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts might not be on their roster for next season.

Houston Texans

We could see an entirely different group of skill position players lining up as starters in 2021 for the Texans.

At running back, presumed starter {David Johnson|RB|HOU}}’s contract expires after the 2021 season. If they decide to cut him after this season, they'll still owe him $2.1 million of his $7.95 million base salary. However, $2.1 million isn't likely going to deter the team from cutting him if he doesn't play well.

Fellow veteran Duke Johnson's contract will expire after 2021 as well. He also has no guaranteed money left in his deal, so the 2021 starter at RB might not even be on the Texans’ 2020 roster.

At the wide receiver position, we may see a totally new lineup in 2021 as well.

Former first-round pick Will Fuller's rookie deal will expire after this season (he's on his fifth-year option). The contract of veteran Kenny Stills will expire after this season concludes, and fellow veteran Brandin Cooks carries a $12 million base salary in 2021, but with no guaranteed money. That means if they decide to cut him, they won't owe him anything. It's hard to imagine he'll return next season on that salary no matter how well he plays, so he may have to renegotiate the deal if he wants to stay with the Texans.

Veteran Randall Cobb's $8.25 million base salary is fully guaranteed in 2021, so he won't be going anywhere. However, he’s the only veteran guaranteed to be back next year.

Indianapolis Colts

This is an interesting situation, as both veteran QBs on the roster, Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, have contracts that are set to expire after this season. Rookie fourth-round pick Jacob Eason will obviously still be around, but he’s seen as more of a long-term project. If things don’t go well for the Colts this season, they could totally blow up this QB room.

At running back, fourth-year pro Marlon Mack's rookie contract will expire, and the team has declined to extend his contract to this point. Pass-catcher Nyheim Hines will enter 2021 on the final year of his rookie deal, so that explains why the Colts spent so much draft capital — including a trade up — for Wisconsin star RB Jonathan Taylor.

The wide receiver position could see some movement if the team doesn't extend veteran T.Y. Hilton's contract. His six-year deal is set to expire after 2020. The Colts are currently deciding if they want to extend the 30-year old pass catcher’s contract before the season starts, but his recent health issues may make them hesitant to do so.

At tight end, veteran Jack Doyle has no guaranteed money left in his contract for 2021 and the oft-injured Trey Burton is on a one-year deal, so this position could look completely different next year.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags have already tried to change their running back position this off-season, but they had no takers on a trade for Leonard Fournette.

Fournette didn't have his fifth-year option picked up, so he might not return next year. And keep in mind that Tom Coughlin, who made the decision to draft him in 2017, is no longer with the team.

We're told the team is very high on second-year RB Ryquell Armstead, so it's not out of the question that he challenges for the starting job next season.

At wide receiver, the position could take a hit with depth as Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Chris Conley all have contracts set to expire in March.

At tight end, veteran Tyler Eifert has an option on his contract for 2021. If the team declines it, they won't owe him anything. The team remains high on second-year TE Josh Oliver, who dealt with hamstring issues starting in training camp last year. He’s someone to keep an eye on.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans took care of a major order of business in extending the contract of star RB Derrick Henry, but the future is still up in the air at other positions.

Former top-five pick WR Corey Davis did not have his fifth-year option for 2021 picked up, and veteran slot Adam Humphries has no guaranteed money left in his contract for 2021. He'll have to play well this season and stay relatively healthy for the team to bring him back with a $6.75 million salary for next season. He'll earn $7 million this season.

The Titans are very high on fourth-year pro Jonnu Smith — they cut vet Delanie Walker — but his contract expires after the season ends. We do get the feeling that if Smith gets off to a good start and plays consistently well, he'll get his contract extended, and possibly before the end of the season. (Teams can extend the contracts of drafted players after they've played three seasons.)