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2022 NFL Free Agency: Texans Free Agent Fits

ESPN finds who makes sense for the 2022 Houston Texans.

Cincinnati Bengals v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

That was fast. Two days after the NFL season ended, there’s no time for a season review or time to reflect on what just occurred. It’s just time for free agency. Free agency begins on March 16th. We’re a month away from it, but the needs and wants are already being discussed.

ESPN recently published their 50 best free agents along with the players’ best scheme fits. The Texans have three players attached to them in ESPN’s top fifty:

24. Quandre Diggs, S

Best team fit: Houston Texans

Why it makes sense: At some point GM Nick Caserio needs to find roster staples and leadership. Houston’s outlook at safety is uncertain, with Justin Reid hitting free agency. Assuming he’s healthy, Diggs is one of the game’s most underrated safeties. And he’s a native Texan. — Fowler

Scheme fit: Diggs is a back-end playmaker with the transition speed to drive top-down on the ball in Lovie Smith’s core Cover 2 looks. Plus, he can run the alley and tackle in space. And the Texans need more talent in the secondary. — Bowen

Diggs was able to play single high in Seattle. The Texans’ Cover Two defense limits the need for secondary pieces. They still need safeties who can come down to fit the run, and play two routes at once to defend a deep half. The Texans also played more Cover Three in the second half of the season after Lovie Smith’s preferred Cover Two failed. The front seven is more important than the secondary for Houston as they are currently constructed, but Diggs would fit fine in Houston.

41. Teddy Bridgewater, QB

Best team fit: Houston Texans

Why it makes sense: Multiple execs agree that Houston is a logical destination for Bridgewater, a place he can potentially start games without disrupting the progress of Davis Mills. Bridgewater’s days as a full-time starter might be coming to an end. — Fowler

Scheme fit: We see Mills as the starter in Houston after watching his rookie tape, with Bridgewater as the No. 2. Bridgewater is a consistent decision-maker, with timing and rhythm-throwing traits. — Bowen

Teddy Bridgewater is an average NFL starting quarterback. Last season, he threw with touch, down the sideline, well. His problems were injuries and throwing short of the sticks on third down. Bridgewater should go somewhere he can compete for a starting gig, somewhere like Pittsburgh or Detroit. With Houston set on seeing what they have in Davis Mills, Bridgewater doesn’t make much sense for Houston. He’s too good to simply provide competition for Mills.

45. Leighton Vander Esch, ILB

Best team fit: Houston Texans

Why it makes sense: Dallas declining Vander Esch’s fifth-year option sent signals that he’s not in the long-term plans. That’s OK. Vander Esch can still play a pivotal role on a defense. Lovie Smith needs a downhill thumper in Houston, but Pittsburgh could get involved here, too. The Steelers were very high on Vander Esch coming out of the draft and need linebacker help. — Fowler

Scheme fit: Vander Esch displays functional hip tightness on tape, but he’s a physical, top-down player who can run the pipe as the deep middle-hole defender in Smith’s scheme. — Bowen

Vander Esch had a nice game in the postseason tackling and controlling the short middle against San Francisco. Houston needs a linebacker who can really cover the seam, fit the run, and play the hook. Vander Esch has injury concerns, problems staying on the field, and patrolling the seam is questionable for him, but if healthy, he could provide enough tackling to improve Houston’s defensive front. Given his history, Vander Esch isn’t someone worthy of a multi-year contract right now. On a one-year, prove-it deal? Maybe.