All of that armchair scouting, imaginary cap maneuvering, those internal free agent negotiation monologues, all that painting done to turn the bedroom into a war room has pretty much been completed. The NFL offseason has mostly reached its conclusion from a personnel standpoint. The rosters are just about set. Yeah, sure, Dez Bryant will sign somewhere. Jeremy Maclin will find a one-year contract. Some extensions (Jadeveon Clowney?) will be signed. But overall, NFL rosters are complete.
Entering the offseason, the Texans started off with $63,802,367 in cap room after cutting Brian Cushing. The only player of consequence they released after that was Derek Newton, who will probably never play professional football again :( . Jeff Allen is listening to The Dream is Over on the PUP list but is still technically here. Lamar Miller hung around. Ryan Griffin is still running into the flat. Only one truly obvious cut was made.
Still, Houston put their cap space to work. One of the reasons Rick Smith made the trades he made in 2017 was because of the cap space Houston would have available in 2018. What he failed to forecast was this free agency class was pretty meh. The Texans re-signed Angelo Blackson, Bruce Ellington, Johnathan Joseph, Ufomba Kamalu, Shane Lechler, Corey Moore, Brian Peters, and Alfred Blue. They extended a qualifying offer to Greg Mancz to keep him around. In free agency, they added Tyrann Mathieu, Johnson Bademosi, Aaron Colvin, Zach Fulton, Seantrel Henderson, Senio Kelemete, and Brandon Weeden. Sure, there were minor moves, like claiming Sammie Coates and Stephen Morris off waivers and releasing Chunky Clements, but these weren’t the big ones. Houston didn’t spend all the dough they had, though. They didn’t go all in. The inefficiency of free agency swirled around their brain. As of today, the Texans have the fifth-most cap space available, according to Over The Cap, with $35,428,346.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, despite not having a first or second round pick and holding three third-round picks, the Texans stood still. They didn’t trade up. They drafted and signed Justin Reid, Martinas Rankin, Jordan Akins, Kek Coutee, Duke Ejiofor, Jordan Thomas, Peter Kalambayi, and Jermaine Kelly. They added a slew of undrafted free agents: OLB Davin Bellamy, CB Andre Chachere, RB Lavon Coleman, G Anthony Coyle, P Trevor Daniel, DE Mason Gentry, T Jaryd Jones-Smith, G K.J. Malone, NT Kingsley Opara, WR Vyncint Smith, RB Terry Swanson, WR Jester Weah, DE Jalen Wilkerson.
I’m pretty ecstatic about what the Texans did. Houston didn’t overpay and overextend themselves to fix their two dying needs, the offensive line and the secondary. They were unable to give Nate Solder everything to be mediocre. They upgraded the offensive line by signing the second best guard available in Zach Fulton and a potential but inconsistent starter in Senio Kelemete. Seantrel Henderson hasn’t played in three years and wasn’t even good when he did play, but at least he’s really big. Drafting Rankin in the third round should fill a tremendous hole at right tackle. No longer will Houston have the worst offensive line in football.
Houston added talent to the secondary to address their other enormous need. Aaron Colvin, Tyrann Mathieu, and Justin Reid are all versatile players who can do a multitude of different things. To make up for not having a lockdown corner, the Texans will probably run a variety of different looks—three safety sets?—multiple zone coverages, and it should be a unit good enough to complement a diabolical pass rush if it stays healthy.
Sure, there are things I wish they did differently. I wouldn’t have selected Akins in the third round. I would have signed Cameron Fleming over Henderson. I would have brought in Austin Seferian-Jenkins as a low risk, athletic tight end option. I would have thought about going in on another big name free agent and tried to steal Kyle Fuller from Chicago. But considering everything, the market, and the draft picks available, I’m happy with what Brian Gaine did in his first offseason as general manager in Houston.
I would give it a B+.
What about you?
What Grade Do You Give The Texans’ 2018 Offseason?
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