ESPN’s Mike Sando recently interviewed dozens of executives, coaches, and insiders around the league to get their impressions of how free agency shook out for all 32 teams. While the Rams, Vikings, and Eagles each dominated the national news cycle with their ever-increasing arms race, the Texans quietly had a very good March with two key signings in the secondary - Aaron Colvin and Tyrann Mathieu. Here’s what Sando and those executives had to say about Brian Gaine’s first foray into free agency.
”Colvin is a good player and very, very talented,” an exec said. “In my opinion, he was probably the second or third best corner in free agency, with Kyle Fuller being No. 1, so I think they helped themselves. [Colvin] can play inside, he can play outside, he is strong, has good speed, competes well at the ball, has good instincts. I think he is going to be a high-value signing.”
Another exec liked the Mathieu signing for the price, noting that Mathieu performed better late in the 2017 season. But with no picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, Houston wasn’t positioned well to make a run at tackle Cordy Glenn, who could have brought badly needed stability to the left tackle position.
”You got Deshaun Watson in the draft last year -- congrats -- but having no pick til the third round is what you have to live with,” an exec said. “They have three third-rounders, so I do see them trying to move up, potentially for a tackle. In free agency, Mathieu grades out as a low-level starter right now, but he is so instinctive, so tough, so gritty that he is the type of player that I really want on my team.”
It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that the Texans really, really needed Cordy Glenn but simply did not have the draft capital to get him, but at the same time, if the Texans did have the draft capital to pry him from Buffalo, Houston likely would not have Deshaun Watson on the roster. All things considered, I think we would all rather have Watson and no proven left tackle rather than a proven left tackle without a quarterback.
Bill O’Brien tried the other song and dance the last few years with Duane Brown protecting a long list of bad quarterbacks, and it predictably got him nowhere. I am confident that Gaine and O’Brien will address the offensive tackle position as early as humanly possible in this year’s draft - likely with a trade up into the second round - and hope for the best. For now, however, Watson is going to have to make due while running for his life on third downs.
What do you think, BRB? Could the Texans have been more aggressive in free agency when targeting offensive tackles, or was the right move to target these value deals in the secondary instead and save money for Jadeveon Clowney’s monster extension? My gut tells me that we may not know the right answer until kickoff later this fall.