The NFL Offseason has been carrying on, despite the spreading respiratory disease, and so have the Texans. Houston resigned Bryan Anger and Whitney Mercilus before the end of the 2019 season, and have resigned Brandon Dunn, Darren Fells, Kai’imi Fairbairn, Dylan Cole, and Tyrell Adams since the season ended. Houston would like to bring back Phillip Gaines. Carlos Hyde, Johnathan Joseph, Lamar Miller, and Bradley Roby are set to hit free agency.
I asked the masthead a very simple question. Do you like the Texans moves so far? Have the moves so far given you any insight into the Texans free agency plans?
These are their responses:
I didn’t dig the Darren Fells resigning. The career high seven touchdowns scream regression. He’s a bad blocker, the read-pass option with him seeping into the flat drove me insane by week 10, he can’t stretch the seams, and Houston has three young and talented tight ends. I’d rather see the Jordan rookies and that eight pack CHAD Kahale Warring get the reps and chances instead.
The other issue with it is the opportunity cost of extending him. By giving Fells $4 million, Mecilus $12 million, and Dunn $4 million, a combined amount of $20 million for the 2020 season, Houston is paying out a top free agent to a tight end with deficiencies whose best skills are finding open space and boxing out peons in the redzone, an outside linebacker who can’t create a pass rush on his own, and a fat nose tackle that plays a dying position. I’m sure Ryan Pickett would come out of retirement for 500K. For $20 million the Texans could have taken on a cap hit of Bud Dupree, or Arik Armstead potentially, or resigned D.J. Reader. Instead it’s spread among three players that don’t move the needle at all.
Because of these moves, and recent Bill O’Brien comments, the trend I’m seeing so far is the Texans are looking to run things back in 2020 and bet on continuity.
BOB on signing free agents: "The big difference that I've learned from mistakes that I've made ... in the draft, you really get to know these guys ... in free agency, you don't always know the person. He's coming from a place that does things a little differently than you do." pic.twitter.com/q6Yo7pAq9S— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) March 6, 2020
This is a bad idea. The Texans were fortunate in 2019 and propped up by Deshaun Watson pulling off the spectacular and going 9-3 in one score games. They probably won’t be able to do this again in 2020. The team has to get better this offseason. So far they have made moves that don’t lend itself to that.
This is speculation of course. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens on Monday, if Monday even comes at all.
The offseason signings have been akin to a game full of CHUMs. Bill O’Brien is only going with what he’s comfortable with, and he’s showing he has no fear of signing players to contracts they don’t deserve as long as they are BOB kinds of guys.
Would you rather have Angelo Blackson, Brandon Dunn, and Darren Fells? Or DJ Reader. What about Whitney Mercilus (who plays next year at 30) and Brandon Dunn instead of an actual player who can get to the QB?
Aside from the Mercilus contract, which is straight trash, none of these signings by themselves are deal breakers. The problem is signing this many JAGs doesn’t improve the team, and it ties up cap space as Laremy Tunsil and Deshaun Watson near free agency.
If there is one theme to BOB’s reign of error as the GM, it’s that he’s willing to sacrifice talent in the name of keeping guys who are his type of players. That is not a recipe for success, just more suffocating mediocrity.
Right now, it feels like BOB is shelling out easy contracts and overpaying players.
Letting Jonathan Joseph walk is understandable, regardless of the fact that he’s the best signing in franchise history. However, Houston’s secondary is going to need significant reworking if they’ll want to take the next step towards a championship.
The guys that have been resigned so far are pretty neutral. These were guys that could have been taken care of easily and on the cheap. The Darren Fells deal doesn’t seem that bad on paper, but Ka’imi Fairbairn was severely overpaid. BOB could possibly be clearing these smaller signings to focus on the larger issues at hand.
At this point, the general direction of these signings feels aimless. Just doing what needs to be done.
In terms of the free agency plan, I’d hope they’d try to sign extensions with Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil to get a clearer picture of how much money they’ll be able to work with moving forward. The Trent Williams interest sounds like due diligence on GM O’Brien’s part.
The “Texan Man” narrative seems to be real, and something that BOB is actively trying to build this team on. Guys that fit his mold and method. Its been done before, but one would wonder if a team full of “High Character” players outweighs a roster with talent.
It’s hard to tell the magnitude, or lack thereof, with the signings so far until we have a bigger picture view of what the roster will look like post-draft. Resigning Fairbairn seems like a no-brainer - but, who pays a kicker $4+ million a year?
I get that a lot of people disagree with me, but Darren Fells was a great security blanket for Deshaun Watson last year—one can only expect more in his 2nd season with DW4. Just as not-sure-about-this with the Dunn resigning as I was with Angelo Blackson last year. And, hopefully Carlos Watkins can rise up finally and replace D.J. Reader, because I doubt Dunn or Blackson will.
Beyond that, I’m a fully committed, big-time, wish-I-could-trade-my-Clowney-jersey-for-a-#59, Whitney Mercilus fan. Of the man, the player and the member of the H-Town community at large - he’s J.J. Watt level amazing as a role model, without the platform a guy with Watt’s generational talent brings. Mercilus is the kind of man we all should want our kids looking up to when they turn their eyes to pro athletes for inspiration.
That being said, on the surface - and out of the context of the rest of the roster - his resigning, or more accurately - the dollar signs in his new contract - didn’t make a ton of sense based on what the team needs and the amount of cap space they have to achieve those needs. Granted, if O’Brien had let Mercilus walk in free agency, NRG might certainly find itself surrounded by the torch and pitchfork crowd. In the end, I’m happy for Mercilus - he’s a hard working, team player. If the Texans can adequately replace Jadeveon Clowney in a manner that compliments what J.J. Watt and Mercilus do well, this will seem like a no-brainer.