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Why the Texans failed Jeremy Lane’s trade physical

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks were ecstatic when the Hawks originally agreed to send cornerback Jeremy Lane, a 2018 fifth round pick and Seattle’s 2019 second round pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for tackle Duane Brown. Unfortunately, Lane failed his physical upon arriving in Houston, forcing Seattle to surrender their 2018 third round pick in order to keep the acquisition of Brown in place.

That failed physical and the subsequent surrender of the 2018 third round pick to Houston meant Seattle would hold no second and third round draft pick this year. However, many fans have wondered whether that was simply the Texans’ plan all along in order to extort receive as much draft pick compensation as possible out of the Seahawks.

We’ll take a quick look, but the evidence seems to indicate that there is no reason to believe Lane didn’t legitimately fail his physical. Lane had been inactive and on the injury report for both the game against the Los Angeles Rams on 10/8/17 and against the New York Giants on 10/22/17 due to a groin injury (note: Seattle had a bye week the week of 10/15/17). And even though Lane was active and played in the game against Houston on 10/29/17, he was listed as questionable on the injury report heading into that game, as seen below.

Week 5 inactive list showing Jeremy Lane inactive more than three weeks prior to being traded to Houston

That’s three full weeks of the Seahawks publicly proclaiming Lane was injured, and in addition, the Week 8 injury report listed a new finger injury to go along with the groin injury. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll mentioned the injury to Lane’s fingers in a press conference just two days before the Houston game, describing the injury as Lane having, “jammed the end of two fingers violently.” A couple of jammed fingers normally wouldn’t be a very big deal for a pro football player, however, in an Instagram post that seems to have since been deleted, Lane showed just how violently the fingers were jammed. Here is a screengrab of he original post.

Multiple online medical personalities have given their impression of this photo, and when I consulted my go to orthopedic consultant, he had the same take: it appears as though the fingers dislocated so severely at the joints that the skin split open and had to be stitched shut. So, having had the tips of his fingers nearly come off in practice on Thursday October 26th, Lane then had to take a physical on Tuesday, October 31st, just five days removed from the ends of his fingers nearly popping off.

That leads us to Appendix K, buried on pages 291-293 of the CBA. Appendix K covers the standard player physical and I have circled a part which would likely have been highly relevant to Lane’s physical.

So, the Texans could legitimately fail Lane in his physical if he did not have full range of motion of all his fingers, and it would be likely that just five days after the injury he suffered that Lane would not have had full range of motion in the fingers.

Could the Texans have given Lane a waiver on that portion of the physical and passed him anyway? Absolutely. Thus, if they failed him for something trivial, what would their reasoning for failing him be?

That mystery may have been solved Monday. Following the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, reports emerged that, well, I’ll just let others explain.

So, if the Texans are not interested in players who knelt during the anthem, what does that have to do with Jeremy Lane?

To put it as plain and simple as possible, Lane was an anthem protester, in both 2016

and 2017

In fact, according to this timeline of anthem protests from KIRO 7, Lane was not just an anthem protester in 2016, he was the first player in the NFL who was not a member of the San Francisco 49ers to sit for the anthem. It couldn’t have made Texans owner Bob McNair happy to learn that his team had just traded its All Pro left tackle for an anthem protester.

The Texans on Monday issued a statement that the reports they would avoid anthem protesters is false, but nothing will be known for certain until the actions of the team in free agency are shown in coming weeks.

But at least we have likely found some clarity on the why behind Lane’s failed physical.