One of the keys to building a good football team is identifying core players and adding franchise cornerstones to build your team around. Whether it’s hitting in the draft and extending players, or selecting the correct players in free agency to invest in, both are a prerequisite to constructing a good football team. One of the problems the current version of the Texans have is they lack these key players. Houston had them but lost them because of their own stupidity, or their players chose to go elsewhere, which is an indirect result of the same thing.
Pro Football Focus recently selected three players each team can build around for the future. This is what they had to say about the Texans:
Between Deshaun Watson’s off-field situation and his request for a trade out of Houston, it makes sense to leave him off the list. That leaves a relatively thin list of remaining candidates.
Tunsil is the Texans’ best player moving forward. He’s been one of the top pass-protecting tackles in the NFL since arriving in Houston, ranking in the 98th percentile at the position in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets since 2019. And Cooks, despite playing for four different teams before turning 27, is a talented wideout. His 55 receptions on passes 20-plus yards downfield over the past five years are fewer than only Tyreek Hill and Julio Jones.
Reid, even after a down 2020 season, has the most promising outlook of any defensive player for Houston. He has been the 24th-most valuable safety in the league since being drafted in 2018.
Here is the same problem discussed above. Tunsil is a great player, but again, the value of a left tackle has been overrated in the years, and what Houston gave up to acquire him left their cupboard bare. Cooks is a great value at $8 million, but he’s already lost his vertical speed and his production was the result of Watson pinpointing him on deep crossing routes. Cooks is still a good 1B receiver but isn’t someone you can build around. We’ve all been waiting for Reid to make the leap; last year should have been it, but in a fluid talentless secondary, with a bum shoulder and tackling problems, his performance dropped.
The point is simple. Whenever Houston trades Watson, they have to get the most out of him, and they have to hit on the picks they get with that haul. The Watson trade needs to springboard the next good Texans team by turning him into multiple franchise players the Texans can build around.
Houston is empty. Tunsil is a cornerstone player. Cooks isn’t. Reid hasn’t shown that he is yet. The Texans have gone from a team built around top talent to a team without top talent.