Free agency is just around the corner and the Houston Texans have money to spend. However, there is no way they can fill every pothole with a high priced free agent. As things stand now, they might be able to afford three or four significant free agents. So, we are hitting every position group just in case there are some names that we could see bandied about in the rumor mill.
Adding a veteran running back might be a longshot. You can find quality running backs in the middle rounds of the draft as the Texans did with Pierce. We do know that they will not be signing one of the top tier running backs that are technically free agents. They aren’t signing Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Miles Sanders, or Josh Jacobs. It will have to be someone in the next tier. Instead of looking at 2022 numbers in isolation, we will look at the last three seasons to see who might be a decent possibility.
Possible Free Agent Targets
D’Onta Foreman: 1,575 rushing yards, 4.3 YPA, 15 catches, 154 yards, 8 TD
Cal McNair is the only person that was in the building when Foreman was let go the first time. Foreman is not a starting quality running back. He is better than Rex Burkhead and Royce Freeman and that is the goal here. Even if you draft a running back, having a quality third back is still a good idea. He had an overall 73.1 PFF score, so he is a guy that could get serious run and not hurt your team.
Kareem Hunt: 1,695 rushing yards, 4.5 YPA, 95 catches, 688 yards, 20 TD
He got buried behind Nick Chubb, but he was the perfect complement. He has more top level speed than Pierce and obviously can be a target in the passing game. Unlike Foreman, he could serve as a third down back even if the Texans drafted another running back. He had a 67.0 PFF overall grade in 2022, but that is still a considerable upgrade over Burkhead.
Jerrick McKinnon: 672 rushing yards, 4.1 YPA, 102 catches, 872 yards, 17 TD
McKinnon came on strong this past season as a pass catcher out of the backfield. As a rusher he might not be better than Burkhead or Freeman, but he is an honest to God weapon as a pass catcher out of the backfield. This is honestly about price vs. fit. He was below regular level overall (57.5 PFF) but he scored well as a receiver (69.9).
David Montgomery: 2,720 rushing yards, 4.0 YPA, 130 catches, 1055 yards, 23 TD
If you want the closest thing to a bell cow running back on the market then Montgomery is your choice. He showed an ability to run reasonably well and catch passes out of the backfield. He may not have the ability to really dominate as a runner, but as a secondary back you could do a lot worse.
Latavius Murray: 1,917 rushing yards, 4.2 YPA, 60 catches, 383 yards, 17 TD
Murray had an overall grade at 82.5 PFF last season. In particular, he was dominant as a runner despite the lack of opportunities. He could be an under the radar free agent bargain if this is handled correctly.
Rashaad Penny: 1,129 rushing yards, 5.7 YPA, 10 catches, 64 yards, 8 TD
This may be another guy that was underutilized at his last stop. That also might be a guy with less tread on the tires than someone of his age and experience. He won’t blow anyone’s skirt up, but he would be clearly better than Burkhead and company.
James Robinson: 2,262 rushing yards, 4.4 YPA, 91 catches, 617 yards, 23 TD
He gained over 1,000 yards for the Jaguars in 2021, but he was supplanted by Travis Etienne. Like Montgomery, he might be the best overall back on the secondary market in terms of numbers. PFF really didn’t like him nearly as much (59.7 PFF). He might not be worth the cost if he thinks he is a primary running back.
Devin Singletary: 2,376 rushing yards, 4.5 YPA, 116 catches, 777 yards, 16 TD
He served as the chief running back in Buffalo, but they might be looking for an upgrade. He would be the perfect tandem running back because he can play all three downs and be a threat in both the run and pass game.
Jeff Wilson: 1,754 rushing yards, 4.5 YPA, 42 catches, 349 yards, 18 TD
Wilson played in San Francisco before he was dealt to Miami. So, if you want a guy that knows the offense coming in then he would be your guy. He graded out really well as a runner (74.4 PFF) but struggles as a receiver out of the backfield. You still need someone that carry the ball five to ten times a game to spell Pierce.
Putting it All Together
The Texans need a lot. Their running back room has to get better and there is no way of getting around that. They have Pierce and really that’s it. It is highly possible that they draft a running back AND add a free agent. In that case, it will likely be one of the cheaper options. Predicting the market is difficult, but someone like Jeff Wilson could be a nice addition at a relatively low cost.