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2021 NFL Free Agency: Three Potential Free Agents The Texans Should Target

Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt can’t do it by themselves.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

With no marquee draft capital to speak of in 2021 and a roster littered with non-starters, the incoming Houston Texans general manager will have to get after it to quickly infuse this team with talent so the new head coach will have a fighting chance to succeed. While we won’t know who will actually stay with their current team, who signs elsewhere, and who would love to be part of the Houston ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ turnaround, we do know who is slated to hit the market when the league year begins (tentatively set for March 17, 2021). Since Houston doesn’t have much in the way of draft assets, they may need to shop for older players who bring more than raw talent to the table. Hence my first two choices.

Von Miller Should Join The Houston Texans.

Technically, Miller is not set to hit the open market until 2022, but it’s hard to imagine a rebuilding Denver Broncos organization taking another $22 million cap hit for the aging star. The Broncos would create $18 million in cap space if they release Miller, finding themselves in the same situation the Texans are in with J.J. Watt, except Watt has been able to stay on the field for the entirety of this season.

While Miller and Watt were often the talk of the town in years past when it came to game-wrecking defenders, neither are quite as formidable as they used to be just a few short years ago. Putting the two wily vets on the same front seven would not only bring a ton of experience and wisdom, it would allow younger defenders such as Charles Omenihu, Jonathan Greenard, and Zach Cunningham to win more battles while Watt and Miller eat up extra blockers every play. Not to mention, Houston may not have a dump truck full of cash after cutting several veterans, nd Miller won’t command the sort of money in 2021 he did four years ago, particularly after missing the 2020 season.

Patrick Peterson Would Help The Texans Tremendously.

If Bill O’Brien had any worth as a trade negotiator, Peterson would already be a Texan. Sending DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for anything less than Peterson and a draft pick should have been unthinkable, but letting Jack Easterby ostracize the second best receiver in franchise history should have been unthinkable as well. Acquiring Peterson is the sort of deal Rick Smith might have pulled off.

Peterson falls into the same category as Miller: an aging star who may have already signed his last blockbuster deal but could be enticed to play with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt. His skill and experience could go a long way to elevating the play of younger cornerbacks; putting him alongside Bradley Roby, with a re-signed Gareon Conley as CB3, would be an immediate upgrade to Houston’s secondary.

Joe Thuney Would Make Houston’s Run and Pass Games Better.

Moving to the other side of the ball, it’s clear the Texans need some interior offensive line help. Thuney, a staple of the New England Patriots‘ offensive line, was an expected trade target earlier this year, with many surprised Bill Belichick didn’t deal the guard before the deadline since Thuney is playing 2020 on the franchise tag and the Patriots found themselves on outside looking in at the postseason. Houston could work a trade to get Thuney or join the pack of suitors expected to include the Arizona Cardinals and others vying for Thuney’s services.

Plant Thuney next to Nick Martin, and the interior line suddenly becomes more stout. Martin has an easier time, Laremy Tunsil goes from great to the greatest, and Deshaun Watson’s blindside is protected better than it’s ever been.

Honorable mentions:

Le’veon Bell: Houston clearly needs a solid bell cow running back, and with so many rumors connecting the Texans and Bell last year, it might make a lot of sense for Houston to sign him this offseason. particularly if they can bolster the offensive line with a player like Thuney.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: Here’s a guy set to cash in as soon as his contract expires. While the Pittsburgh Steelers may push to keep the speedy wideout, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are both ahead of Smith-Schuster in total yards and yards per catch this year. Pittsburgh will have a tough time keeping their entire roster under the cap, which means the new Houston Texans general manager might have a shot at inking the wideout.

Brandon Scherff: It seems the Washington Football Team plans to hang onto the All-Pro guard as long as possible. They opted to franchise tag him last offseason. If Washington can’t agree to a long-term contract with Scherff, could the Texans bring in Scherff and Thuney? If so, Deshaun Watson should be a lock for 2021 NFL MVP.