Texans’ Offseason Approach: Silent but Deadly

Prior to the start of free agency, I believed the best approach for the Texans was to be aggressive but also smart. For the most part, the Texans have done just that. Houston entered the new league year with 70 million dollars in cap space, and despite the fans’ demand to spend big, the Texans elected not to throw their money around. Instead, Houston let the market settle, made an effort to bolster at least one weakness of the team, and added depth in the process. Of course the Texans could have done more, and with that in mind, here is what they have missed out on, lost, but also gained so far in free agency.

Free Agents the Texans Missed out on:

  1. Le’Veon Bell: I like Lamar Miller, and hope D’Onta Foreman can return to form in 2019; however, the Texans dropped the ball on this one. Bell ended up signing with the New York Jets for four years and 52 million dollars. The outcome made sense after the Colts and Texans showed no serious interested. Thankfully for Houston, the Colts did not make an attempt at Bell; but then why wouldn’t Houston at least make an offer? Money-wise, the Texans could have come close to what the Jets offered, and maybe even could have beaten it.

    Signing Le’Veon would have pushed the Texans miles ahead of the Colts in the division, but also would have made them an even bigger threat to the Patriots. I’m usually against signing running backs in free agency, because there are plenty of good running backs every year in the draft. But Bell is very much in his prime, a dual dynamic playmaker, and fresh after taking a season off. The Texans should have made an aggressive push for him.

  2. Teddy Bridgewater- Why is Teddy number two on the list when the Texans already have their franchise quarterback? Because quarterback is the most important position on the field, and the Texans need to solidify their backup quarterback spot in the event Deshaun Watson gets hurt again.

    I am more shocked that Teddy did not land with a quarterback-needy team. Nevertheless, the Texans need to find someone who can keep things afloat again in the event Watson goes down. Knowing how dynamic Watson is, the Texans’ offense would greatly suffer regardless of who the backup is. While Teddy’s numbers don’t jump out at you compared to other free agent quarterbacks and potential quarterbacks from the draft, the 26-year-old may have been Houston’s best option as a Plan B; God forbid the Texans ever need a Plan B.

  3. Trent Brown- The second most important position on the field outside of quarterback, at least in my opinion, is left tackle. Why? Because a good left tackle keeps your quarterback’s blind side protected, thus aiding towards keeping your quarterback upright. For the Texans, protecting Deshaun Watson was a major challenge a season ago, as Houston allowed a whopping 126 quarterback hits and 62 sacks.

    Houston could address left tackle in the draft, but if they don’t strike gold, then not having made a push for Brown could come back to haunt.

What did Houston lose this offseason?

One of the keys to a successful offseason for the Texans was to keep much of their 2018 defense intact … and they didn’t. Houston lost Kareem Jackson to the Broncos, Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs, and Christian Covington to the Dallas Cowboys. Production-wise, Covington is not a huge loss; despite playing on the same defensive front as Watt, Mercilus, and Clowney, Covington mustered only 65 tackles and just 7.5 sacks in his four seasons with Houston.

The defensive backfield is where Houston took the biggest blow, as Mathieu and Jackson provided great leadership, and were also very productive as both combined for 176 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 interceptions in 2018.

To be fair, the Texans did make Mathieu a long-term offer of 9.5 million per season, and Mathieu made the right business decision by waiting to see what the market was like for safeties. Once Landon Collins signed his huge six-year, 84-million-dollar deal, the chances of Mathieu remaining with the Texans became slim to none as Houston was not willing to go above their new offer. As for Jackson, the Texans did not even approach Jackson with a new offer, despite his versatility between safety and corner.

As good as the safety trio of Jackson, Mathieu, and Reid were, the Texans still ended 2018 28th in passing yards allowed, and 18th in passing touchdowns allowed.

What did Houston gain?

They signed AJ McCarron to be the backup quarterback for one year. Not my first choice, but a solid one. McCarron never really had a chance to prove he could be a starter; the most he started was seven games in 2015 for the Bengals. McCarron completed 66 percent of his passes, delivering 6 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions.

Houston also signed tight end Darren Fells to a one-year deal. Fells is primarily a blocking tight end, which can help the offensive line; but Fells can be a red zone threat, as he caught three touchdowns for Cleveland last season.

Defensively, Houston made an effort to bolster their secondary, signing safety Tashaun Gipson to a three-year deal, as well as corners Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun both to one-year prove-it deals. While none of the three are household names, if they can help improve last year’s 28th-ranked pass defense, all three will have done their job.

Wrapping Up

Despite entering free agency with over 70 million dollars, Houston elected to take the silent but deadly approach. From a fan’s perspective, that stinks. Houston did not overspend or blow the majority of their cap on one player; instead, they spread the money out to address one area of need while keeping an eye ahead towards the draft.

Only time will tell if the Texans’ free agency approach works, but if their signings come to fruition coupled with a good draft, 2019 could be a year the Texans soar to new heights. Take a deep breath and relax, fans: While Houston had their misses, the building process is still under way, and there is a lot of time between now and Week One.

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