With less than a week to go until the official tampering period begins (you know, where teams are allowed to break the rules; they couldn’t come up with a better way to do this?) the rampant speculation, “expert” opinions, mock drafts and crazy prognostication is in full swing and on the way to fever pitch.
While this is often a fun time of year for fans, mainly due to the ripe possibilities and unadulterated dreams of what could be, all the rampant flights of fancy are really just a way to pass the time through the doldrums of the NFL offseason.
Looking at the “How to Build” poll from last week, the majority of us firmly believe in a level-headed approach. And by “us,” I mean those who follow the Texans regularly, not necessarily the “us” of those who write about the Texans regularly.
In the latter camp, we’ve seen everything from the (apparently) completely uninformed (Bucky Brooks mocking a tight end to Houston with the 23rd overall pick), to the seemingly misguided (these cats have Houston taking a wide out with the 23rd pick), to Albert Breer and John McClain’s apparent disagreement about the future of Jadeveon Clowney (Breer says Houston is open to trade talks while McClain insists it ain’t happening - the reality of which is probably that any team dumb enough to offer a ‘Herschel Walker to the Vikings’ level trade can have Clowney ASAP.)
Meanwhile, Houston is allegedly shopping Kevin Johnson, but might have a rough time getting anyone to part with much of anything and then absorb Johnson’s inflated cap hit. Maybe the nice ladies in the Texans store at NRG Stadium can sew “Osweiler” on the back of Kevin Johnson’s jersey and send him to Cleveland.
With all that being said, here are my “bold/not so bold” hot takes and predictions as the Texans get ready to plunge into the offseason:
1. Jadeveon Clowney isn’t going anywhere.
At least not in the immediate future. He’ll play 2019 under the Franchise Tag, with each side hoping to get the better end of a long-term deal next off-season. No other team is going to shell out top three edge rusher money for a guy who still has question marks, particularly in a year when the draft is overflowing with edge rush talent.
2. Kevin Johnson is going somewhere.
But it’ll happen by way of Houston cutting him. The former first rounder has never done enough to dodge the potentially unfair “bust” label and no apologist in their right mind pays Pro Bowl cash for a guy who would only be CB1 on a team if he signs in the Alliance of American Football.
3. Brian Gaine avoids former Steelers.
At least Steelers named Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. After Brown’s AIM-FIRE-READY shot to the foot last week, you can guarantee Houston’s brass want no part of bringing him to town. Le’Veon Bell has been smart enough to keep his comments less inflammatory and “me first,” but the price tag he’ll likely command next week will make Gaine and Bill O’Brien shy away from him.
4. Houston will go after more than one “big name” big man when free agency opens.
Expect the Texans to go after Trent Brown and Ju’Wuan James if the opportunity arises -then go after a lesser known guard or three. While Brown has his detractors, the fact he protected Tom Brady will be more than enough for Bill O’Brien to want him in battle red. James will make a great starting right tackle. Signing them both frees up Houston for Prediction #5.
5. The Houston Texans select two cornerbacks and an offensive lineman early in the 2019 NFL Draft.
With the first three picks in the draft, the Texans will take two corners and an offensive lineman, strictly depending on who is available on their big board when their picks come around. Clemson’s Trayvon Mullen and Vanderbilt’s Joejuan Williams both met with Houston at the NFL Combine, and while a lot of these meetings are designated misdirection, there’s no doubt Houston loves to drink from the Dabo Swinney well. Other possibilities for the Texans in April: tackle Andre Dillard, tackle Cody Ford, guard Tytus Howard, and/or tackle Greg Little - depending on who is available when Houston picks.
Bonus Houston Texans free agency prediction:
The Texans try to play the long game with corner/safety Kareem Jackson and lose him to another team within the division.
It’s hard to be a Texans fan and not expect at least one “makes me want to scream” move in the offseason. This year, it will involve K-Jax. Just like A.J. Bouye, Jackson played well in a contract year to earn a bigger paycheck; Houston will let him test the waters and regret it.
There you have it, the Red Zone Play wild speculation for the week leading up to NFL free agency. What do you think? Have five predictions of your own you want to share? Lay down your hot takes in the comments section.