At 3 p.m. CDT on March 10th, just one week from now, all NFL clubs must have their franchise tag designations turned in. Six days later, on March 16th, teams are allowed to begin negotiations with free agent players.
That means the football news cycle is about to heat up over the next couple of weeks. The clock is ticking on the Houston Texans to protect the players they want to keep while laying the ground work to put offers out for players they want to add.
This means the list of players that are potentially no longer Houston Texans must be worked out now. Make no mistake, that list is being worked as we speak.
While the dust is settling from the NFL Combine, the Texans need to be focused far more on veteran players right now, as they’re not likely to get more than two or three rookies who are a real help in 2020.
With the stage set, here are Five Things The Texans Must Do Now.
1 - Make a decision on Bradley Roby.
Either re-sign him or be prepared to throw even more money at someone who may or may not bring more to the table than Roby did in 2019.
Roby didn’t get much hype when the Texans landed him last year, and there’s been some smoke that he won’t be back. At the end of the day, Roby did well by Houston and having him on the team in 2019, in a position group that desperately needs talent, seems like a no-brainer. However, there’s always chemistry, his connection to newly minted defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, the other new assistant defensive coaches, and his overall comfort level with remaining in H-Town to consider.
2 - Re-sign Darren Fells.
The Texans struggled for several years without a solid option at tight end. Which the emergence of the Jordan twins, they took a step in the right direction, but Fells really blossomed in the Texans’ offense, provided Deshaun Watson with a great fail-safe target, and did more for the Houston offense than any tight end not named Owen Daniels has done in the team’s history. Fells caught 70.8% of the passes thrown his way, which is the best season any Texans tight end has ever had. Don’t let this guy get away.
3 - Decide which edge rusher to target and then bring the big guns.
Landing one of the top free agent edge rushers, guys like Shaquil Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue, Matthew Judon and Dante Fowler Jr., isn’t going to come cheap. With big contracts looming for Laremy Tunsil and Deshaun Watson, Texans apologists might be looking for bargains, but there won’t be any here. Time to bite the bullet and shell out the sort of money they should have given Jadeveon Clowney last year. Be prepared to outbid a team utilizing the transition tag.
4 - Pick a cornerback to target and go all-in.
The same as with edge rushers, except there will be a lot more supply at the cornerback position. Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. has been linked to the Texans repeatedly, but since he’s primarily a slot corner, Houston will need to do more than just sign Harris, especially if they let Bradley Roby walk away.
Houston could do well with a starting corner core of Roby, Harris Jr. and Gareon Conley, but leaving Conley as the sole top dog will just mean even more late game breakdowns like last season.
5 - Bring back Carlos Hyde.
Bill O’Brien catches heat on a near constant, 24/7 basis for calling the A-gap run so often even people who barely know what football is see it coming a mile away. Carlos Hyde is the first back O’Brien has had who fits in the A-gap. Sure, Tim Kelly will be handling play-calling duties, (or so they tell us), but Kelly is an O’Brien disciple, so what are the odds he doesn’t continue to run between the center and guard like its money?
Not only did Hyde have his best year last season, but Bill O’Brien saw his best production from the running back corps. Why mess with that just to try and save a few nickels? If they let Hyde go, do they risk bringing in another D’Onta Foreman or Tyler Ervin in the hopes of finding the next Arian Foster? That’s a bad gamble. Hedge the bet and re-sign Hyde.
What five things top your to-do list? Agree with these ones? Think we missed something? Tell us about it.