Normally, the NFL trade deadline would come and go around these parts with nary a yawn to mark the passing. That was then, and this is now. And now is the All-In-Bill-O’Brien-2019-Super-Bowl-or-Bust year.
With so many holes across the board, from offensive line to defensive line, cornerbacks to edge rushers, Houston still needs a lot of help to even be “one player away” from winning it all. With the wide receiver corps collecting injuries like trading cards, adding another marquee pass catcher wouldn’t hurt either.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick walk down recent memory lane:
Bill Barnwell (via ESPN.com)
The Texans failed to sign offensive tackle Nate Solder in 2018, which eventually led them to inexplicably sign Matt Kalil to play left tackle in 2019. When Houston failed to draft its left tackle of the future in Andre Dillard and Kalil was predictably injured during camp, O’Brien sent two first-round picks to the Dolphins for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. To help free up the financial space to make that happen, O’Brien agreed to pay half of Clowney’s salary to ship him off to the Seahawks for a third-round pick and two linebackers who have barely suited up for the Texans on defense.
Now, after cutting Colvin in frustration after the opener, O’Brien’s used the third-rounder from the Clowney deal to acquire a player who has been one of the league’s worst cornerbacks this season. Across the first three rounds of the next two NFL drafts, the Texans have just two selections: their second-round pick in 2019 and their third-round pick in 2020.
For whatever issues I might have with the roster-building philosophy in Los Angeles, the Rams have at least used their draft picks to target superstars such as Jalen Ramsey and Brandin Cooks. Tunsil is a star, but shedding draft capital to get players like Stills, Johnson and Conley just doesn’t make sense. O’Brien seems to know that he won’t be around if this all-in ploy fails and continues to throw future assets toward possible short-term fixes. It’s the opposite of just about what every successful franchise in the league does with their roster and their draft picks. Good luck!
While we can get excited by individual moves in here, stepping back and looking at the whole picture isn’t pretty. O’Brien is clearly leveraging the future of the franchise to save his job. As I mentioned the other day, this rarely works out for a franchise (something echoed by Barnwell in his piece, too).
But that doesn’t mean it can’t work. So instead of walking around all Eeyore like, let’s go with it and keep dreaming about NFL trade deadline glory. Who knows, adding one or two more players might just be enough to keep the Texans competitive beyond the Wild Card round. Add in a few lucky breaks, some key opponent injuries, and the Texans could find themselves holding the 2019 Lombardi Trophy. Any given Sunday is a saying for a reason.
Houston Texan Trade Predictions:
Cornerback Desmond Trufant
Texans coach Bill O’Brien has made the most of his interim general manager duties, shipping away picks for bookend Laremy Tunsil and wideout Kenny Stills. BOB followed this up with a swap for Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley, but that hardly solved Houston’s issues in the secondary. Rookie slot corner Lonnie Johnson is the team’s lowest-graded defensive regular, per Pro Football Focus. With Bradley Roby banged up and Phillip Gaines shipped to injured reserve, the Texans still need plenty of help at CB. Trufant is under contract through 2022 and would give Houston a proven-if-not-spectacular piece to build around. Potential compensation: 2021 third-round pick.
This one actually makes a lot of sense. The Falcons are clearly in a tailspin and signaling they’ve given up on 2019 by trading Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots. Why not let Trufant fly off to H-Town? Alongside Roby, Joseph, Conley, and Johnson, Trufant would immediately make Houston’s cornerback group better than average. He’s no Jalen Ramsey or Marcus Peters, but Houston no longer has the trade stroke to land guys like that or Ramsey would be wearing Battle Red instead of Rams (shiver) gold...
Edge Rusher Vic Beasley
Speaking of the Falcons, rumors are swirling that edge rusher Vic Beasley is on the table. Could Houston sway the Falcons to part with Beasley for a 4th round 2020 pick or a 2021 3rd rounder? It’s possible. While Houston isn’t going to find anyone to replace Jadeveon Clowney, Beasley will get a lot further down that road than the waiver wire guys they got from Seattle in the actual Clowney trade.
Wide Receiver A.J. Green
Odds are long that the Bengals will give up Green for anything short of a blockbuster trade including first round picks, but imagine what Green could do in Houston’s offense. We can dream, can’t we?
Offensive Tackle Trent Williams
This is almost an obligatory inclusion. Before the Tunsil/Stills trade, Houston targeting Williams seemed like a no-brainer. But in light of O’Brien dumping Clowney for daring to hold out, Williams may not be the sort of “best teammate I can be” guy O’Brien is willing to suffer on his roster. Regardless, if Houston can land Williams for a moderate return, they should at least be kicking the tires.
Wide Receiver Robby Anderson
With Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee’s apparent inability to stay available on game day, adding another deep threat receiver makes too much sense. Houston managed to snag Demaryius Thomas right before the deadline last year for a minimal draft loss, and the Jets might be in a similar spot as the Falcons, where giving up today to build tomorrow makes a lot of sense.
Offensive Guard Brandon Scherff
More likely to be of use to Houston right out of the gate in terms of soon-to-be former Redskins is guard Brandon Scherff. He doesn’t have the high-profile dispute with the team that Williams has, and let’s face it, as long as Dan “Alleged Destroyer of Worlds” Snyder owns the Redskins, chances of them going anywhere reside somewhere between the mythical lands of “slim” and “none”.
Cornerback Chris Harris
The Denver Broncos have already parted ways with Bradley Roby and replaced him with Houston’s own Kareem Jackson, so clearly John Elway isn’t averse to upheaval in the secondary. Maybe he still harbors some unknown resentment toward the pass defenders from his days as a quarterback? Rumors continue to trickle out that Harris is on the table and Houston could clearly use some veteran help. He and Roby already have chemistry, so bringing Harris in on a team-friendly trade might be worth looking into pretty closely.
While truth is almost always stranger than fiction, this time of year usually brings out the predictive nature in NFL pundits. Do any of these potential trades light your fire? Who would you want the Texans to target and what would you give up to land the deal? Give us your dream trade scenarios in the comments box.