The NFL Free Agency bonanza begins next week. Starting March 12 at 4PM Eastern time NFL teams are permitted to contact and enter negotiations with agents of unrestricted free agents. They definitely haven’t had contact prior to that exact moment! The actual period where contracts can be executed and made official is March 14 also at 4PM Eastern.
With that fuse quickly dwindling, I wanted to get the BRB Staff’s thoughts on its preferred targets for one offensive free agent and one defensive free agent for the Texans. Of course we would all love to pull from the top names on either side of the ball, but the staff did a good job of avoiding duplication. Let’s see if you are “aligned” with our thoughts...
Offense - Of course we all want Andrew Norwell, but the offensive Apple of my Eye this offseason is Eagles TE Trey Burton. Stuck behind Zach Ertz and Brent Celek for a couple of seasons, Burton has still managed 60 catches, is a freak athlete - and is LETHAL in the red zone. Also, you may have noticed that our TEs are absolute trash. The Texans are likely to be heavy players for OT Nate Solder and though he’s not dominant, I’d be on board with that. He’ll be expensive but I feel better about grabbing him this year and using a 1 or a 2 on our LT of the future in the 2019 draft.
Defense - Kyle Fuller. If the Texans can make an offer the Bears cannot match, it won’t cost them any draft picks to sign Fuller under the transition tag. I’m skeptical this can be done especially since the “poison pills” are no longer allowed. I won’t be angry with a Malcolm Butler signing here, but I just don’t think he will play up to that contract. Of course, big money free agents rarely DO play to their contracts, but my point is I don’t think Butler will be a guy who will be more than solid, and with the contract he gets he doesn’t need to be transcendent, but he definitely needs to be more than solid.
Offense - RB Rex Burkhead. I know we have gone on and on about offensive line and I’m sure Nate Solder is priority No. 1 for the Texans and I get it even though he’s not a top-of-the-line tackle to me. But one thing to think about is how much better the offense looked when the Texans got their running backs involved in the receiving game. Lamar Miller finished second in DVOA on just 45 receptions. I think Watson is the kind of quarterback who would thrive on picking apart defenses with these sort of flex backs out of the backfield, and though the draft is one solution, the sure thing would be better. Burkhead is an underrated runner too, and I think getting him makes Miller expendable while you try to find a long-term receiving back in the draft.
Defense - CB Ross Cockrell. I thought he got unfairly shoved out of Pittsburgh, he played well for the Giants after they pushed Eli Apple to the side. I know he’s not considered a top of the line corner, but this is the kind of player I want to take a chance on with a defense this depleted in talent. He’s shown some success, he’s not old yet, and if you hit on him with a two or three-year commitment you get a solid starter locked in that you won’t have to worry about for a bit.
Offense - Andrew Norwell. The rumor mill has him landing elsewhere, but plugging in such a solid guard will instantly elevate Nick Martin and allow for better open access to O’Brien’s beloved A Gap.
Defense - Tre Boston. Houston has needed an upgrade at Safety since the Oilers were still in town, so why not take a run at Boston? He had 79 combos and five picks last season. He hails from Victoria, so he might even be willing to take a hometown discount.
Titan Matt Weston, Slanderer Of Blade Runner And A Huge Fan Of The Texas Rangers, A Team That Will Never Be The First To Win A World Series In Texas
Offense - RT Cameron Fleming. I would rather see Fleming signed for $8 million a year, then Solder for $10-11 million. Julie’n Davenport is a left tackle, not a right tackle, and I’d rather see him get a chance to compete to start and Fleming on the right side, then Solder on the left. Fleming is a good all-around tackle. Both him and Solder will probably be worse away from New England. Tom Brady as your quarterback masks things, and we all remember what Von Miller and Demarcus Ware did to New England’s offensive line when Dante Scarnecchia was away. Regardless, tackle is the biggest need on offense, and Fleming is the most affordable replacement available.
Defense - CB Kyle Fuller. Fuller was one of the better defensive backs in the league last year, and was underrated until free agency began. Statistically he was a top fifteen cornerback this past year after knee surgery singed his 2016 season shut. I’m pro-turnovers are more luck than skill, but Fuller has also been one of those guys that has had an affinity for creating them since he came into the league. Although he got the transition tag I’d love to see if Houston could bid him out of Chicago. With him, a maybe healthy front seven, Kareem Jackson at safety, and ritualistic sacrifice to get Kevin Johnson’s ability back, the Texans should climb back to being a top ten defense.
Kenneth L, FNG Who Doesn’t Follow Directions Especially Well (kisses, Kenneth)
I would ideally like to get Malcolm Butler and two offensive lineman.
Defense - Brashaud Breeland is an athlete that would make a big splash and would be a great addition. He would be expensive but I think letting Jonathan Joseph walk or releasing Kareem Jackson would make this work. Breeland is 26 and can lock down the faster WR that we play. Although I am unsure how he would be a locker room fit.
I think an underrated issue is OLB opposite of Mercilus. Brennan Scarlett is coming off an injury and seemed overwhelmed in his role. He struggled to set the edge. Adding a player like Nigel Bradham would be huge because he can both help coverage as well as stop the run. A cheaper option could be taking Paul Posluszny away from the Jags. Or even getting Connor Barwin back from the Rams.
Offense - Norwell with a bullet followed only by Trey Burton closely.
Defense - Nickell Robey-Coleman would instantly improve the slot corner position, something this team completely lacks.
Offense - Andrew Norwell, Guard (Panthers). The best way to protect Watson, and give him time to remain in the pocket, is to shield the threat from pressure in his face. I’m far less concerned with edge rushers given Watson’s mobility. Unfortunately it sounds like he may be heading to the Giants.
Defense - Trumaine Johnson, Corner (Rams). I would have been happier with Kyle Fuller, but the Bears just transition tagged him a few hours ago. Johnson would be a big upgrade for Houston, although the “Johnson & Johnson” references by the media might wear thin by mid-season if the Texans have Kevin and Trumaine as the starting outside corners.
What are your thoughts, BRB? I’m sure many of us have Norwell at the top of our list on offense, but we needed a variety of thought on this one. Use the comments section to give us your top target on each side of the ball, and have a great weekend.