The Houston Texans are officially eliminated from this year’s playoffs. As usual, we watched QB Deshaun Watson play lights out with a subpar O-line group, little to no run game, and one of the worst WR groups in the league. Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league without a doubt, and this offseason is detrimental to his success.
Former GM/HC Bill O’Brien made some of the worst trades in NFL history before being fired mid-season. Heading into this offseason, the Texans will be looking for a new general manager and head coach. On top of that, this roster has a ton of holes to fill, and this franchise is set up with no draft picks in the first or second rounds, and has a limited amount of cap space.
Whoever the Texans decide to hire as the GM will have his plate full from the beginning. It’s unrealistic this franchise turns itself into a playoff contender after this offseason, however, they have a legitimate opportunity to set themselves up for future success. With that said, here are my top offseason maneuvers the Houston Texans must accomplish to build the foundation for success:
Houston Texans Team Needs: Plus Predictions
Hire General Manager Louis Riddick
Louis Riddick has been an ESPN analyst since 2013 and has been making his mark in the football world. What a lot of people don’t know is that Riddick has experience as a scout and Director of Player Personnel for the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles.
The GM rumors began buzzing a few weeks ago, and there are already reports that Riddick will be interviewing with the Texans and Lions. He seems to be one of the more intelligent ESPN personalities for the NFL, and teams are taking notice. Look for Houston to make him an offer after their interview, as I believe he’s the favorite to land that job.
Hire Head Coach Eric Bienemy
It was a shock last year that Bieniemy’s name was never mentioned in any head coaching interviews. He’s one of the better OC’s in the league and plays a vital role in Kansas City’s success. Pairing him up with Watson would be massive for the Texans, as Bieniemy already knows how to coach a top QB in this league in Patrick Mahomes.
This Texans franchise needs help, they need a culture change, and someone to take the bull by the horns. Bieniemy is a guy who can do just that, as he will bring high-level coaching experience, playoff and super bowl experience, and a winning mentality. This is possibly the most important of all of the Houston Texans team needs.
Houston Texans Team Needs: Free Agency
Re-sign Will Fuller V
Will Fuller is one of the more underrated wide receivers in the NFL. The main reason is this guy just can’t play a full season. He had two consecutive years where he suffered season-ending injuries, then this year, he got suspended for six games.
However, when Fuller is on the field, he’s been one of Watson’s favorite targets. In the 11 games he played this season, Fuller was able to record 879 yards and eight touchdowns, both of which are career highs. The Texans have one of the worst WR groups in the NFL, and bringing back Watson’s favorite target would be the right decision.
Sign G Joe Thuney
At this moment, the Texans don’t have a whole lot of cap space to play around with. In fact, they currently have just under $7 million available. Joe Thuney is going to be asking for a hefty price tag, as he’s one of the better guards in the league.
In order for this to happen, the trades I mentioned above are going to have to be completed. If they are, Houston should highly consider signing Thuney, or one of the top available guards in the free-agent pool. Protecting Deshaun Watson should be the number one thing when the new GM thinks of the Houston Texans team needs in terms of personnel.
As we all know, the teams front line has failed to protect him since he was drafted, making it one of the Houston Texans team needs every year.
This year alone, the Texans have allowed 46 sacks. Watson is scrambling for his life on every pass play and is still recognized as a top-five QB in the league. Imagine what he could do with a little protection?
Sign WR Demarcus Robinson
WR is a huge need for this team, as they simply don’t have a true top wide receiver on the roster. Will Fuller is a good wideout, and Brandin Cooks has his moments, but with the limited draft capital and cap space, the Texans are not likely going to find their guy until at least 2022. Instead, Houston should be looking for young talent with the potential to become a major player on a team down the line, and Demarcus Robinson fits that description perfectly.
He’s not the biggest name on the board of free-agent wide receivers this year, but he’s someone that has the potential to be a reliable target for Watson. This season, he’s been able to record 39 receptions, 408 yards, and three touchdowns.
To the naked eye, these are not the most impressive numbers. In order to really appreciate Robinson, you have to dive into his efficiency ratings. He currently has a 75% catch percentage, averaging 10.5 yards per catch, and has gained a first down on 23 of his 39 receptions. The Texans should have Robinson high on their list of free-agent targets, as he’s efficient, and has the potential to be a major contributor next year.
Sign CB Brian Poole
This is another player that’s not going to break the bank. Brian Poole was having an excellent season, but that ended after Week 9 when he fell to an injury. Similar to Robinson, Poole is someone who has the potential to be a great player for any team in the league. Before he got hurt, Poole was on pace for 78 tackles, four interceptions, and 12 pass deflections, all of which would have been career highs.
The Houston defense has been one of the worst in the league, and their pass game has been lackluster, to say the least. They’ve allowed 3,900 yards through the air, which is the seventh most. Bringing in a guy like Brian Poole would help Houston’s pass defense substantially. Of all of the Houston Texans team needs, this one has been on the back burner for the longest.
Houston Texans Team Needs: Trades
This might just be the most controversial thing I could say to Texans fans, but hear me out. It’s been a roller coaster of a career for JJ Watt since 2016. He fell to injury in three of the last five seasons and hasn’t produced as a top defensive player since 2018. This year has easily been the worst of his career. He’s only recorded five sacks and 49 total tackles. To put it simply, JJ Watt is not the same player he was a few years ago.
Additionally, Watt gives the Texans a cap hit of $15.5 million this year, and that number will go up to $17.5 next year. That’s a lot of money being spent on a player that’s hardly producing. This defense is weak across the board, and that money could be better spent on a position of need.
The Texans may still be able to gain quite a bit if they trade away Watt, as the perception across the league is that this guy is still elite. He’s only 31 years old, and could still perform well for a franchise who struggles at pass rushing. If another team is willing to trade their 2021 second along with a lower-tier guard, the Texans should smash the accept button.
David Johnson was one of Bill O’Brien’s terrible acquisitions after he dished away DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals to get him. Johnson is 29 years old and will be 30 by the time next year begins. If there’s anything we all know about the RB position, is that they age quicker than most other players in the NFL (unless you’re Frank Gore and you’re built like a machine).
With that said, Johnson has actually had a decent year. He’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and has the third most rushing yards in his career with 607. On top of that, he’s also been able to find pay dirt seven times. He’s a legit veteran in this league, and could serve as a nice relief back for any team.
Although this may be true, he’s costing Houston just over $11 million this year and is currently the third highest-paid player on the team. Finding a trade partner may be difficult, as not many teams will be willing to trade for a 30-year-old RB with that high of a price tag. Houston should be looking for draft picks, and really, Houston should jump on any opportunity to trade him away.
Randall Cobb was another head-scratching acquisition made by the genius Bill O’Brien (heavy sarcasm). Cobb is already 30, and O’Brien gave him a three-year deal worth $27 million. On top of that, if the Texans were to cut him, it would put $18 million of dead cap on the already dwindling cap space the Texans have.
Cobb was hardly good this year and has been battling injuries since Week 10. He’s put up a measly 441 yards and three touchdowns, which just doesn’t cut it in this league. Also, Cobb is due a pay raise next year, jumping from $3.75 million this year to $8.25 million next year. Houston is basically stuck with his contract until after the 2021 season, where they can cut him without getting penalized too harshly.
That’s probably what is going to wind up happening, but if Houston can trade him away they should. They won’t get much in return, and their best bet is to likely trade him away for someone on a one year deal. Hopefully, they can get a player in a position of need, whether it be someone in the secondary, or possibly a linebacker.
Houston Texans Team Needs: NFL Draft
Draft a WR
The Texans don’t have much to work with in the draft this year, but luckily for them, this draft class is loaded with WR talent. They’re not going to be drafting one of the top guys, but similar to last year’s draft, they will find talent in rounds three and four.
Texans fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high if they decide to draft a WR, as he’ll still need to earn his way onto the field. But drafting a wideout in this draft should make life easier for Deshaun Watson down the road. A few players that could be available to Houston in round 3 are Rashod Bateman, Tylan Wallace, and Tamorrian Terry.
Draft an OL
As I mentioned before, Houston is in dire need of help on the O-line, and they could find a nice prospect with potential in this draft class. Again, this player likely won’t be an immediate starter, however, Houston can add some depth and youth to a group that needs it.
If Houston does draft an offensive lineman, they’re likely going to select a guard. Laremy Tunsil has the LT spot on lockdown, and Charlie Heck is a rookie they’ll want to see grow into the RT position. Furthermore, Houston seems to like their center, Nick Martin, after giving him a nice paycheck not long ago.
A few guys that could be available in rounds three or four are Chasen Hines, Jackson Carman, and Cade Mays. Either one of these guys would be a great addition to the Texans roster, and would at least provide some competition at guard.
Load up on defense
Last but not least, the front office is going to want to address the defensive side of the ball. There are numerous holes that need filling, and in rounds five through seven, the Texans should just draft whoever they feel is the best player available.
Last year, we watched the Carolina Panthers load up on defense throughout the entire 2020 draft, which is a great strategy for a team that was begging for help. Houston doesn’t have that kind of draft stock to acquire the top talent this year, but if they hire the right GM, they should be able to snag a few gems in the later rounds. A few guys to pay attention to are Tyreke Smith, Joshua Kaindoh, and Kameron Butler.