Casserly met with the media earlier this week and revealed that the Texans are likely to take far less than the average of 34 players that Cleveland, Carolina and Jacksonville selected in recent expansion drafts.
"We're going to go with less players," Casserly said.
Casserly indicated that the Texans probably will not take more than 20 players. By NFL guidelines, those names need to encompass 38 percent of Houston's 2002 salary cap (roughly $27 million).
He also said that they are taking age into consideration because they want to make sure that the players they do take will likely play out their contract.
"Any player that was over 30 years old we eliminated from our thinking," Casserly said. "Remember, we assume their contracts in this draft. The one thing you don't want to do, you hope, is to take a player that's not going to play his contract so you're going to have dead money on your cap. So that was the first thing. Any player over 30 we eliminated from our thinking in this. That's where the age factor came in."
That immediately eliminated Davis, 33, and Dotson, 32. Thierry turns 31 on Sept. 4 and Harris turns 31 on Oct. 15. Williams turns 29 on April 22. Besides age, all except Williams have high price tags. Harris signed a four-year contract last spring that included a $3.125 million signing bonus. Dotson will count $3.3 million against next season's salary cap. Thierry is scheduled to be paid $3.5 million in 2002 and had three off-season surgeries last year. Davis, a specialist, has to be paid the veterans' minimum of $477,000.
"We went through our list and said 'Let's do this like the other teams did it. Let's take 30 players and see how many of them we think can make our club,'" Casserly said. "We ended up with about five.
"Now any player that we take that's on our roster after June 1, their minimum salary is guaranteed. Now you've got $10 million of dead money on your cap."
Some of the featured names on the list include Jacksonville veteran offensive tackle Tony Boselli and experienced quarterbacks like New Orleans' Jeff Blake, Buffalo's Rob Johnson, Detroit's Charlie Batch and Atlanta's Chris Chandler.
Williams, a backup linebacker and key special teams player, seems to be the most likely to be taken by the Texans. He has started 11 games between Oakland and Green Bay in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He didn't start any games in 2001, but led special teams with 17 tackles, and he is only expected to count $563,000 against the cap this season.
The Texans have to assume the salary of any veterans it selects. The Browns selected 37 players in their 1999 expansion draft. Sixteen of those players made the 1999 roster, but only eight of the final 26 players selected suited up. Four of those eight were gone by the next season. Those numbers weren't encouraging to the Texans.
"So we decided to take the other approach where you take fewer players, but quality players, even though their cap figures are higher than what we anticipated," Casserly said. "So you're taking the $10 million of dead money and adding it to the good players. We feel it's a better way to do it."