15 Most Impactful Texans of 2023: No. 11 Blake Cashman

The Houston Texans had, by all accounts, an extremely successful 2023 campaign.

They cruised to a 10-7 record under new head coach DeMeco Ryans and captured several accolades along the way. They won the AFC South and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2019 season. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud won PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, rookie edge rusher Will Anderson won PFWA’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, and even Ryans took home hardware with PFWA’s Coach of the Year.

With a revamped team effort that led to dramatic improvements compared to both the 2021 and 2022 Texans, it’s worth examining who created that impact this past season and what their future projects moving forward.

This series has taken a look at defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, running back Devin Singletary, rookie receiver Tank Dell, and veteran tackle George Fant. Today, attention turns towards the ball-hawking linebacker Blake Cashman.


Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans and general manager Nick Caserio traded for Blake Cashman prior to the 2022 season with head coach Lovie Smith. He had failed to stick with Robert Saleh’s Jets defense and was an athletic gamble for Houston at the mere cost of a sixth round selection.

He had just 26 tackles that year but signed a small one-year extension prior to the end of 2022. Cashman entered training camp as a depth linebacker in nickel personnel behind veteran addition Denzel Perryman and second year linebacker Christian Harris.

It was thought that any contribution from Cashman was a bonus, what few thought was that he could have an enormous impact on the defense.

2023 Performance

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Cashman finished the 2023 season under DeMeco Ryans with 106 total tackles and was the regular starter next to sophomore breakout Christian Harris.

His speed allowed him to truly excel in ways that mattered. Both Perryman and rookie Henry To’oTo’o struggled in coverage and Cashman quickly carved out a niche as a far more reliable player on those passing downs. He played 57.3% of Houston’s total defensive snaps despite missing 3 games and not playing defensive snaps until Week 3 against Jacksonville.

He wasn’t an every-down player for Houston but between his reliable contributions at linebacker and ability to play special teams he became one of the defense’s more valuable players and his return from injury was certainly felt in the Week 18 win against Indianapolis when he gathered 13 total tackles.

Cashman’s presence next to Harris also likely played a role in helping Houston to unlock the best version of their 2022 third round pick — possibly one of the biggest defensive developments of Ryan’s tenure.

2024 Projection

Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Cashman is an unrestricted free agent entering the 2024 offseason.

It’s unclear whether or not Caserio and Ryans will prioritize bringing him back to the team next season. He’s a young player at just 27 and could be a valuable contributor to the future of the defense, but his performance this season also signals that he’s due for a sizable pay raise from a needy team. Cashman may price himself out of where the Texans are comfortable.

If he returns, he’ll be a near every-down starter at linebacker in nickel packages with Christian Harris barring a large investment in free agency or the draft. If Cashman is too expensive, Day 2 of the draft could be a prime place for the Texans to try to find more players to develop at Coach Ryans’ favorite position as they did with No. 53.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire