Houston enters the 2024 offseason with pride and confidence the team hasn’t possessed in years. The offense has newfound confidence and have confirmed that their offensive coordinator will stay on for another season. However, the longer I pored over the Houston Texans’ roster and free agency, the more concerns I gained. Houston has done a fantastic job patching up holes via free agency and I trust them to do it again, but now the big item is re-signing top talent: Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman, and Steven Nelson.
Here are the top needs heading into the offseason.
Returning players: Derek Stingley Jr., Ka’Dar Hollman, Troy Pride Jr., Josh Thompson
Reason for need: Losing starting veterans.
Houston stands to lose several starters and rotation pieces at the CB position. Steven Nelson, Desmond King Jr., and Tavierre Thomas all are free agents. While Stingley Jr. had a coming out party this season, the Texans could stand to draft one or two corners in this draft along with signing a top flight player. If Houston signs a star like L’Darius Sneed and draft a corner in the first two rounds they’ll refresh a vital position in today’s NFL.
2. Running Back
Returning players: Dameon Pierce, J.J. Taylor, Gerrid Doaks
Reason for need: Depth, Dameon(?), Devin, and Draft.
Devin Singletary is a free agent. No one knows what to expect from Dameon Pierce after his sophomore slump. There isn’t much talent otherwise on the roster at RB. Plus, this draft has quite a few players at the top who could be dominant. Personally, Bucky Irving from Oregon would be a fantastic addition in the second or third round. Houston relies heavily on its strong run game and needs more than one suspect running back to continue the offense’s dynamic attack going.
3. Defensive Tackle
Returning players: Maliek Collins, Kurt Hinish
Reason for need: Starting role.
Collins and Rankins have excelled as a dynamic duo inside. They combined for 11 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. They need to resign Rankins or ultimately draft a top tier player to fill this position. Behind CB, the starting DT role may be biggest gap on the roster. Undrafted free agent Kurt Hinish is one of the better stories on the team, but is only useful as a run stopper. The Texans need to draft a mid-round interior player to bolster this group and hold down the position long term.
Returning players: Jimmie Ward, Jalen Pitre, M.J. Stewart, Brandon Hill
Reason for need: Talent.
Jalen Pitre is a solid secondary player, but he isn’t the best keeping the top on the offense. Consistently beaten downfield, Pitre needs help and a long-term complement rather than a rotating cast of veterans. Jimmie Ward’s injury against the Browns knocked him out for the season and he’ll be entering his 11th season. M.J. Stewart and Brandon Hill are depth pieces but don’t provide the oomph the Texans need moving forward.
5. Defensive End
Returning players: Will Anderson Jr., Dylan Horton, Ali Gaye
Reason for need: Starting role across from Anderson
Jonathan Greenard is among the top players to re-sign this offseason. His 15 tackles for loss were 13th in the league and his 12.5 sacks were 10th. He’s a perennial top-flight defensive end and will be surely missed if he can’t come back. I doubt Houston can draft another first round defensive end two years in a row given the other needs, but it would be a big mistake to not add talent and depth to this critical position.
6. Interior Offensive Line
Returning players: Juice Scruggs, Jarrett Patterson, Kenyon Green, Shaq Mason, Kendrick Green, Nick Broeker
Reason for need: Lack of development.
Kenyon Green is making an argument for biggest bust in Texans history. Considering the Texans could have picked S Kyle Hamilton or DT Jordan Davis instead of trading back to the 15th pick and taking Green, Houston is regretting this pick immediately. Rookies Juice Scruggs and Jarrett Patterson had good but not great seasons. Both could hold starting jobs this next season, but the amount of question marks in this group is remarkable considering the draft and free agency capital extended.
7. Tight End
Returning players: Brevin Jordan, Teagan Quitoriano, Dalton Keene
Reason for need: Schultz and scheme.
Houston must re-sign Dalton Schultz, that’s the top priority of the offseason. Houston may have hit on its long-term prospects in Jordan and Quitoriano, but neither are adept enough to be dominant starters. Losing Quitoriano mid-season to grind and oblique surgery hurt, but Jordan blossomed in the roll. If Houston loses out in a bidding war for Schultz, the tight end position skyrockets up this list.
Returning players: Christian Harris, Henry To’oTo’o, Jake Hansen, Myjai Sanders
Reason for need: Losing quality veterans.
Blake Cashman and Denzel Perryman were fantastic recent additions, but Cashman is an indispensable part of this defense and must be re-signed. His renaissance season with 106 tackles led the team and he was a fantastic pairing with Christian Harris. He will demand a pay raise on the free agency market, but will Houston look to match or accept the extra potential draft capital? Ultimately, linebackers will be prioritized in any team led by Nick Caserio and DeMeco Ryans.
9. Wide Receiver
Returning players: Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Xavier Hutchinson, Johnny Johnson
Reason for need: Game changers and X-factors
This position is well further down the list than many fans desire. Houston has a fantastic core of receivers with bona-fide options for several seasons to come. What Houston does lack is a dynamite downfield threat and a game changing top-flight WR1. If you ask me, I’d prefer the Texans add one of Rashid Shaheed or Josh Reynolds and spend the high-priced money on a new shiny cornerback to guard the WR talent in the AFC.
10. Offensive Tackle
Returning players: Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, Kilian Zierner, Jaylon Thomas
Reason for need: Inevitable Tunsil or Howard injury.
This position group could arguably be higher, but the prospect of demanding a higher need for a solidified backup role for the next three seasons doesn’t add up. The crystal ball predicts Houston drafting a tackle in the fourth round; someone who fits the skillset but isn’t ready to start yet. Houston will no doubt add more depth to the position, but don’t be surprised if Houston spends a day two or three pick in the NFL Draft on a offensive tackle.
Returning players: C.J. Stroud, Case Keenum, Davis Mills, Tim Boyle
Reason for need: Next man up.
Case is essentially a QB coach in pads. Davis Mills has found his home as a third string backup. But most importantly, Houston may have a franchise QB. Newly elected Pro Bowl QB Stroud had a historic and other-worldly season. He’ll start in Houston for the foreseeable future. From what the team and players have expressed, this QB room gets along extremely well and there’s a sense of congeniality amongst the passers. I don’t see Houston drafting a QB until next season when Keenum and Mills’ contracts are up. Until then, enjoy the ride folks.