The plan, as many Texans fans hoped it would happen, was to nab at least one starting quality free agent offensive lineman, if not two. Then, address the holes in the secondary and work on depth at other positions.
The plan, apparently as Texans brass saw it was to play the long game in which all the starting quality o-linemen went to other teams, including ones in the AFC South, nab a safety and a cornerback, then take the afternoon off to go fishing.
Some are saying that the Texans didn’t do enough to upgrade their offensive line in free agency, but they’re going to be surprised when the defense runs straight into the cap space rather than rushing Watson. pic.twitter.com/kPdKCAhBfe
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) March 13, 2019
Maybe Rivers is onto something here. Maybe Houston can pile all that extra cash in front of the o-line and hope the defense gets distracted long enough for Alfred Blue to hammer the A-Gap…
All joking aside, appearances aren’t always what they seem in the NFL and most head coaches and general managers are very good at playing the shell game.
So, what does that mean Houston is trying to do at this point? Kick the tires on the remaining free agent pool? Take a stab at pulling off some trades – possibly including Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney or someone else? Go fishing?
It’s hard to say with any certainty, but what we can do is look at what options Houston does have right now.
Here are a couple of numbers to chew on: The Houston Texans have about $57.1 million in cap space. That’s one of the biggest war chests in the NFL.
That’s a good thing, because Houston allowed a league-high 62 sacks last year.
As usual, the free-agent market along the offensive line is…less than ideal. Elite linemen rarely get anywhere near the open market. There was essentially one starting-caliber left tackle available this year (Trent Brown), and he’s already agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders.
Losing out on Brown is a bummer, but the Texans still need to do what they can to improve one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines by pursuing Daryl Williams or one of the other free-agent tackles still out there.
The secondary’s an area of need after the team lost three defensive backs to free agency, including Kareem Jackson (Denver) and Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City). Adding Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby stemmed the bleeding a bit there.
But the offensive line remains by far the biggest hole. The Texans cannot allow Deshaun Watson to keep taking that kind of beating.
From NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents List
Justin Houston Edge
While there are some concerns about Houston’s age (30) and previous injuries, he’s played nearly 2,000 snaps at a very high level over the last two seasons, with 112 total pressures, according to PFF. Houston remains a pro’s pro.
Jared Cook TE
The tight end market is absolutely barren behind Cook, who could add 800 yards of seam-stretching offense to just about any attack. The Packers should have kept him a few years back, because they could use a player like him now.
Golden Tate WR
Tate gets a pass for his disappearing act in a new offense following his midseason trade to Philadelphia. A slot receiver with a running back’s physicality, he’s averaged roughly 90 catches and 1,000 yards over the past five years.
Zach Brown LB
One of the most physical, athletic and productive inside linebackers of the past few seasons. Brown seemed to fall out of favor with Washington’s coaching staff late last year after playing at a Pro Bowl level in September and October.
Bryce Callahan CB
Football analytics have noted that slot-corner efficiency is aberrantly unpredictable from season to season. That said, Callahan was one of the position’s premier playmakers prior to his season-ending foot injury in December.
Darqueze Dennard CB
Morris Claiborne CB
Not quite as stingy in coverage as he was in his breakout 2017 season, Claiborne still shattered a career high with 14 passes defensed as the Jets’ top corner last year.
Malcom Brown DT
The final pick in the first round of the 2015 draft has started 62 games (including the playoffs) for a team that has appeared in three consecutive Super Bowls.
Bashaud Breeland CB
It was a lost year for Breeland after he hurt his foot just before free agency last offseason, but it’s not like he’s a totally different player than he was at that time, when he cracked our top 25 players available.
What to make of a rotund running back who was cut twice before breaking the century mark in each of his first three games as an emergency starter for the Rams? Anderson proved he has something to offer as a straight-ahead bulldozer.
D.J. Fluker OL
A first-round flameout in San Diego and New York, Fluker resurfaced as a mauler in Seattle, setting a physical tone for one of the league’s fiercest ground attacks.
Johnathan Hankins DT
Have heft, will travel. The veteran run-plugger went unsigned through Week 1 of last season, but still came away as one of the few bright spots on Oakland’s otherwise porous defense.
T.J. Yeldon RB
Yeldon quietly has gained nearly 3,200 yards from scrimmage in his four seasons, barely less than fellow free agent Tevin Coleman. He’s a solid third-down back in a league that values that skill set more than ever.
Brian Poole CB
A versatile defensive back, Poole has played more than 70 percent of Atlanta’s snaps since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2016.
Berry’s health is a total question mark and the reason for this low ranking, but he would bring unquestioned leadership and savvy to any locker room he joins.
What do you think? Anyone on this list a must-have? Happy with where Houston sits right now? Already given up on 2019? Somewhere in the gray? Or are you just hoping the San Antonio Commanders make a run at the Alliance of American Football championship just in time to start watching the Astros? Tell us your thoughts and give us your plan in the comments box.
Author: Mike Bullock