Free agency season is for dreaming. Any fan can convince themselves that their team will make an aggressive move to add talent in places they never dreamed of. Sure, there is risk, but that’s what makes it fun. Remember the Eagles’ “Dream Team” in 2011?
The Texans are not historically big spenders when it comes to free agency, but this year they really don’t have a choice but to be aggressive. They lack top draft capital and there are holes all over the roster. According to Over the Cap, the Texans have around $55 million to play around with right now; that number could of course change based on cuts and/or re-signings (Laremy Tunsil?) before free agency begins.
Of course, that $55 million will have to go a long way. The Texans need help in the secondary and with their pass rush, two positions that won’t come cheap. If they had their pick of who to sign and money was no object, here’s who I would want the Texans to take a run at.
Keep in mind, this is a wish list. I’m approaching it with the same seriousness that I would approach constructing a Madden team. That is to say, not very seriously. I know it isn’t plausible to sign most and maybe any of these players in free agency, but I think they would all make a significant impact to the roster and help Houston contend during the 2020 season.
- Amari Cooper (WR)
The Texans need another wide receiver to take the pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins. Will Fuller has been great when healthy, but the problem is that he’s never healthy. I believe Amari Cooper is the perfect antidote to the various ailments that Fuller suffers.
Think about it. With Cooper and Hopkins playing on the outside, the Texans could move Fuller into the slot in the final season of his rookie contract. This could limit Fuller’s snap count, which should theoretically help him stay healthy. As an added bonus, Fuller is a mismatch on almost anyone who would line up over the top of him in the slot.
In 2019, Cooper had 79 catches for 1,189 yards and 8 TDs. His presence could free up Nuk and Fuller enough to supercharge an offense that could then compete with the Chiefs. This isn’t the highest priority signing on this list, but it is the most fun one.
2) Chris Jones (DT)
Chris Jones is a version of D.J. Reader that stays productive for an entire season. He’s a big presence on the inside of a defensive line at 6’6” and 310 lbs. This season, he has produced 58 total pressures rushing from an interior defensive line spot. In four years, he’s produced 33 sacks as a defensive tackle. On top of that, he’s a solid run defender. There was a noticeable difference in Derrick Henry’s production in the AFC Championship Game when Jones was on the field.
Most importantly, a combination of Chris Jones and Reader would be deadly to the inside of an opponent’s interior offensive line. Imagine both of these guys taking up multiple blockers and freeing each other up to get an inside rush going on passing downs. The Texans’ defense would be much more formidable.
On the flip side, if Reader leaves in free agency, Jones is more than capable of replacing the talent and production we would be losing.
3) Byron Jones/Chris Harris Jr. (CB)
The Texans’ defense was a major problem in 2019. Most noticeably in the secondary. The Texans made a lot of moves to try and shore that up, but just because you have more players doesn’t mean you’re getting better. Despite Bradley Roby, Gareon Conley, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Lonnie Johnson Jr. all joining the team this past year, Houston’s pass defense was ranked 26th in the NFL. These DBs “combined” for a whopping 2 INTs. I say “combined” sarcastically because both picks were by Bradley Roby.
Enter Byron Jones or Chris Harris.
Jones would be ideal. He’s a five-year starter and defended nine passes last season. He’s athletic and able to play in the slot or at safety if needed.
Harris is a little older, but brings experience and might be a little cheaper. He’s been in the league for nine years. In 2019, he had six passes defended.
Neither had great interception numbers last season, but both are capable of covering another team’ WR1. This would free up the Texans to orchestrate more exotic blitzes and find creative ways to remove other offensive weapons from the game. Making a play for either brings back flashes of signing Johnathan Joseph in 2011. The experience and skill each would bring would slot him in as a starter immediately.
4) Jadeveon Clowney (Edge)
The Texans never should have traded Clowney. He would have been especially helpful after J.J. Watt went down with another injury this year. Clowney brings a strong edge run presence and is able to put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. True, he doesn’t generate incredible sack numbers, but pressures are valuable.
This is an easy call. Make amends with Jadeveon and get him back on the field to terrorize opposing offensive lines again.
5) Derrick Henry (RB)
I can hear all the complaining already. Why would you pay a running back in free agency? Let me tell you why. Bill O’Brien is dead-set on keeping his offensive scheme, which relies heavily on a power running game. We completely wasted Lamar Miller’s skill-set trying to run him in this offense. Then, when he tore his ACL in the preseason, we brought in Carlos Hyde. Despite not being able to succeed at any of his previous spots, Hyde performed admirably in the Texans’ offense in 2019. Turns out that he’s the exact kind of power RB who loves to bang his head against a wall, over and over and over and over...but I digress.
Considering that Carlos Hyde was able to rush for over 1,000 yards this past season, I ask you to pull a number out of thin air for what you think Derrick Henry could do in Bill O’Brien’s system. O’Brien’s devotion to a power run scheme sets up Henry in a big way. Henry had over 1,500 rushing yards in 2019. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I believe he could hit 2,000 in O’Brien’s system. DH2K sounds good, right?
O’Brien believes in running his backs into the ground, and Henry is the perfect back for that. This is literally a match made in O’Brien’s wildest dreams.
Who would you all like to see added to Houston’s roster this offseason? Pretend money is no problem and go wild with your predictions.