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Red Zone Play: Houston Texans Roster Realities and Revelations

Not much to see here, move along...

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

(Disclaimer: at this point in the NFL’s league year things may change before this post sees publication…)

The natives are getting restless in H-Town, primarily because the Houston Texans “addition by subtraction” approach to the first day of the free agent tampering period is doing more to highlight what Houston is losing/isn’t getting than anything else. While the Texans tagged Jadeveon Clowney and resigned a handful of depth players, they’ve also lost Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu to other AFC teams.

While the Honey Badger’s contributions were more in the x-factors of leadership than on field domination last season, Kareem Jackson had a career year and was one of the lone bright spots on an otherwise dismal defensive back group. To make things worse, Jackson’s agent is saying the Texans never even so much as made an offer to K-Jax. While, the jury is obviously still out on this off-season, letting Jackson walk without so much as a home town discount sort of offer smacks of losing A.J. Bouye years ago.

In other ways that the perception Houston is losing in free agency is rearing it’s ugly head, the two “best” offensive tackles are already off the market, with Trent Brown getting way over-paid by the Oakland Raiders and Ju’Wuan James landing with the Denver Broncos on a deal Houston could have matched or beaten, if they wanted to do so.

As it stands, the Houston Texans’ roster needs have grown, not diminished.

Offensive Line – rumors have it the Texans feel they can address this through the draft. With the top three offensive lineman mock-drafted in the top 20 picks, it’s unclear how that plan is going to work. Right now, Roger Saffold is still on the market, as is Matt Paradis.

Cornerback – while many may not think Kareem Jackson, who was playing hybrid corner/safety last year, was worth the investment Denver made to sign him away from H-Town, there’s been no signs Brian Gaine has done anything to address replacing him yet. As of this writing, there are still a number of cornerbacks on the market, including Ronald Darby, Bradley Robley, Pierre Desir and Bryce Callahan.

Defensive Line – The Texans brass resigned Joel Heath, Brandon Dunn and Angelo Blackson – not exactly a list of future Hall of Famers, but good depth players. However, with no interior pressure, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney (if he’s still in Houston come September) won’t have much better luck this season than they did last season. Henry Anderson and Malcolm Brown are both worth a look here – if they’re still available by the time the Houston player personnel office wakes up.

Running Back – Amazingly, Houston hasn’t locked Alfred Blue up with a long term contract… other than that, avoiding Le’Veon Bell so far is so good… this might be a good place to address via the draft, although Houston has yet to strike gold in the draft when it comes to rock toting tailbacks – don’t forget that even the legendary Arian Foster wasn’t drafted…

Wide Receiver – probably another position that could be addressed via the draft. If DeAndre Hopkins could actually have Will Fuller V and Keke Coutee stay healthy for the entire season, Houston might quickly have the most lethal passing attack in the AFC, if not the league. But, history hasn’t given us any indication that this is anything more than a pipe dream. Tavon Austin, Kelvin Benjamin and Bruce Ellington could all be good depth players to sandbag against injury, should they remain available.

Safety – the rumors are flying that Houston is taking a run at Earl Thomas, something we lobbied for last year prior to the Honey Badger’s arrival. Others are saying Gaine and co. are kicking the tires on Adrian Amos. While Andre Hal and Justin Reid can hold their own, operating with only two quality safeties in a division with Andrew Luck, Nick Foles and Marcus Mariota is foolhardy.

While it certainly appears on the surface like Houston has done nothing to improve their roster, when facing a far tougher schedule in 2019 and looking up at the Colts who were down for several years, all hope is not lost.

If the Texans can make a few solid moves now, then hit an A+ draft, they’ll be right back in the hunt. However, relying on the offensive lineman who started last season might as well be titled the “Deshaun Watson Early Retirement Plan” and not completly rebuilding the cornerback room with pro bowl caliber players means Watson is going to need all the help he can get in putting 30+ points on the board every game to offset the points Houston’s secondary will give up.

Thankfully, they second round tendered Kaimi Fairbairn, so the All Field Goal offense still has a shot at Super Bowl glory!

What do you think of free agency so far? Did Houston miss out on someone you wanted? Still have lots of free agents on your “Big Board” the Texans can target?

Let us know in the comments section!