By Matt Hammond, SportsRadio 610By Matt Hammond

HOUSTON (SPORTSRADIO 610) — Anthem protests won’t be a factor in any of the Houston Texans moves this offseason.

That’s according to a statement released by the team last night, in response to a column in the Houston Chronicle that suggests some NFL agents expect the Texans to be uninterested in any players who have demonstrated during the anthem, or might in the future.

The column, written by longtime columnist Jerome Solomon, doesn’t include a team source saying that the front office has been instructed not to pursue any players with a social conscious, nor does it say that agents have been told as much by the team directly.

It simply says that agents believe that to be the case.

From the column:

I spoke with two NFL agents this week who said word is the Texans aren’t interested in any players who participated in pregame kneel-downs in protest of police brutality.

There is no directive within the organization, but it is considered to be understood that as desperate as the Texans are to bring in talent, the pool of potential signees and draftees will not include anyone who has participated in protests or are likely to.

It’s possible that the Texans have a perception problem, given comments made by owner Bob McNair during an NFL owners meeting and published by ESPN in October, where McNair said the league “can’t have the inmates running the prison.” McNair has also donated extensively to the Republican party and Donald Trump.

But even if some players might be iffy on signing with the Texans, there’s nothing to suggest the Texans would stay away from players who are socially active, up to and including anthem demonstrations.

Bill O’Brien, who was given a four-year contract extension and hand-picked general manager in Brian Gaine this offseason, has been supportive of his players and their causes during his time as head coach. After the team knelt during the playing of the national anthem before their game against the Seattle Seahawks in response to McNair’s comments, O’Brien said “I support my players 100 percent,” he said. “I love my players. I support them 100 percent.”

This offseason will be one of the most important in franchise history.

They’ve found their franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, who was lost for the year with an ACL tear. Their offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. Their secondary, saddled by the loss of A.J. Bouye in free agency and disappointing performance of Kevin Johnson, isn’t far behind. They have $62 million in cap space this summer, seventh most in the NFL, and could cut running back Lamar Miller and/or guard Jeff Allen to free up more dollars. They don’t have a first round (Watson trade) or second round draft pick (Brock Osweiler salary dump), but they do have three third round picks.

Suffice to say, for a team coming off a 4-12 season in which nearly all of its star players suffered major injuries, the Texans don’t have the luxury of passing on good players because of non-football reasons. But to this point, there’s nothing factual to suggest that they would.


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