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2019 Houston Texans Offseason Rumors: Johnson Shopped?, Jackson Gone?, Clowney Franchise Tagged?

Reading the social media tea leaves.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL Combine started last week and ended today. A collection of young men running around real fast and jumping real high gathers a collection of old men to watch said young men, and talk in secret circles of trades, rumors, and where the league is and where the league is going. Ahhhhh networking. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and resumes.

This seance brought out a couple of BIG Texans’ rumors. First off, the Houston Texans are looking to trade Kevin Johnson this offseason. Johnson is owed $9.1 million this season after having his fifth year option picked up last season. Johnson was great his first two seasons, but since then he’s been injured, and even when healthy he’s been horrendous. The burst to break on the ball isn’t there. Constant missed tackles. Turning and chasing without finding the ball. Concussions and aching limbs. Johnson would have fit in perfectly on that 2010 Texans team.

Although Johnson has been terrible, he’s still a former first round pick. Usually this label will give a player a couple of turns on different teams. That being said, I would be surprised if the Texans get anything for him. If they can get anything at all they should take it. The salary, injury history, and previous performance aren’t worth the roster spot, and it’s money that can go elsewhere to improve a hideous cornerback group. A sixth round pick. A seventh round pick. Cash considerations. Rights to Christian Hackenberg. It doesn’t matter. Take it. If not, expect for Johnson to be released before free agency begins.

The other is regarding the safety position. Kareem Jackson said in an (I’m sick typing this) Instagram post that there’s a 99% chance he’ll be playing in different colors next year. Now, these are just comments in a public space, and hopefully he just means the Texans are going to use a different shade of blue in 2019.

This seems like wishful thinking. Aaron Wilson reported the Texans are looking at keeping Tyrann Mathieu.

With Justin Reid and Andre Hal on the roster there is no reason to keep both Jackson and Mathieu. Jackson is a safety now. He doesn’t have the same athleticism to mask his sloppy footwork. You don’t want him playing man coverage any longer. Yet, he’s one of the best tackling defensive backs, he’s a premier run and pass blitzer, and is perfect at playing short zone. Do you want him covering tight ends or slot receivers? Naw. But Mathieu isn’t great at anything. He’s a mediocre player. He does a couple of things pretty well, and also struggles in coverage, see any game against the Colts last season. Jackson is the best in the league in what he does. Mathieu tricks you into thinking he provides more than he actually does. Justn Reid can be used in the same role as Mathieu, and is better at it.

The reasons why the Texans would sign Mathieu instead is age, and scheme fit. Mathieu will be 27 and Jackson will be 31 when the 2019 season starts. And the Texans probably think that by upgrading the cornerback position they can get Mathieu out of the slot and have him play more strong safety than he did last year. Fine. I get it. I would just rather have Jackson, who can play the same role, is great at what he does, then have Mathieu. If I was Brian Gaine I’d offer Jackson some type of two-year contract to stay here instead of keep Mathieu around.

There’s also the chance both leave and Houston plays Hal and Reid at safety and add a cheap veteran as a third safety to put even more money in the cornerback position. This seems unlikely though. I’d expect for Mathieu to stay and for Jackson to leave based on what the internet has told me. Oh well. Whatever. I’m not mad. You’re mad.

Lastly, expect for Clowney to be franchise tagged by Tuesday or prior to it.

As Wilson states, the Texans can tag Clowney and ensure he stays on the team for the 2019 season. From there they continue to negotiate his enormous contract until July 15th, or let him prove his greatness one more season before extending him next offseason. Whatever the path Houston takes doesn’t matter. What matters is they keep Clowney for this season and the future.