There’s been an obvious exodus of talent leaving the Houston Texans in the past couple of years. That wasn’t necessarily an issue early on in the franchise’s history. The team was so poor that other organizations had no interest in former Texans. After five to seven years of strong performance and well-developed talent, former Houston Texans can now be spotted all across the league. Compound that with a increasingly toxic locker room and organizational culture, and you’ll find that players are more compelled to leave than to stay.
I wrote this same article in 2018 under a completely different set of circumstances. You’ll notice that in the previous article, there was such a limited amount of ex-Texans around the league that many positions were occupied by players without a team. In this edition, the roster only has one position where there isn’t an active and well-known player somewhere in the league. Most noticeably, the defensive line quality that has left Houston is immensely better than that of two years ago. You’ll also notice FIVE former first round picks make the list.
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
RB: Carlos Hyde, Seattle Seahawks
TE: Stephen Anderson, Los Angeles Chargers
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Hopkins
WR: Vyncint Smith, New York Jets
Slot: DeAndre Carter, Chicago Bears
RT: Julie’n Davenport, Miami Dolphins
RG: Oday Aboushi, Detroit Lions
C: Ben Jones, Tennessee Titans
LG: Xavier Su’a-Filo, Cincinnati Bengals
LT: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks
Backups: Kendall Lamm, Tyler Ervin, D’Onta Foreman, Taylor Heinicke, Joe Webb, Kenny Stills
Some of the Texans’ fondest memories and best talents can be found on this list. Highlighted by former draft picks, this group would easily outscore and run over the Texans’ current defense. Their offensive line has weaknesses at both guard positions, but honestly their play would be similar to what we saw in the 2020 season from Zach Fulton and Max Scharping.
Ryan Fitzmagic was an incredible sight to see and almost willed an average Miami Dolphins offense to the NFL Playoffs. He fought off Tua for most of the season and truly only lost to an anxious media to see the rookie from Alabama take over the offense after Fitzpatrick went out.
A Hopkins-Carter-Smith combination easily outmatches the group the Texans ended the season with. I’d pick those three over Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, and Chad Hansen any day of the week. The Hopkins trade will go down as one of the worst decisions in Houston sports history, if not NFL history, but the Texans will have to actively live with that decision.
For the running back position, I’ve contended that it doesn’t matter who runs the ball in Houston’s offense. What I didn’t know is that David Johnson was the only exception to the rule that a running back could be bad enough for the run game to completely stop. Carlos Hyde was the perfect running back in our system and went for over 1,000 yards. Not keeping him around was a poor decision. He’s been the backup RB for the Seattle Seahawks and had only 350 yards on the year. With D’Onta Foreman, it was disappointing to see how quickly his career came and went after a prolific college career at Texas. He’s the Titans’ RB3 and played fairly well when he was in for the most part.
DE - Angelo Blackson, Arizona Cardinals
DT - Christian Covington, Cincinatti Bengals
DE - D.J. Reader, Cincinnati Bengals
OLB: Barkevious Mingo, Chicago Bears
OLB: Jadeveon Clowney, Tennessee Titans
ILB: None (yet)
CB: Kareem Jackson, Denver Broncos
CB: Kevin Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Slot: A.J. Bouye, Denver Broncos
FS: Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
SS: Tashaun Gipson, Chicago Bears
Backups: Jahleed Addae, Johnathan Joseph, Joel Heath, Corey Moore
Honestly, this defense is a full bag of emotions for a Texans fan. It’s a who’s-who of defensive players that made big contributions to the franchise at one point or another. From Kareem Jackson to D.J. Reader, this defense has homegrown studs all over it. The amount of depth here is astonishing. Many of these players washed out from the defense after Mike Vrabel left to go coach in Tennessee. Now, they have starting and or contributing jobs across the league. Kareem Jackson continues to be a stud in Denver. J-Jo was released by Tennessee midway through the season, but landed with Arizona right after.
On the defensive line, the Texans have lost nearly every player from their 2018 elite group. J.J. Watt and Brandon Dunn are the main two components left but are not talented enough to hold a defense up on their own. The Texans have done little to repair the defensive line, and it showed this season. Losing Reader was the breaking point for Houston’s defense, even though Reader only played five games this season before sufferingr a season-ending injury.
This post was a lot harder to write two years ago. I think that says something about what has occurred within the walls of NRG Stadium in the past two year. It’s talent that is historic enough to be written in the book of Exodus. Texans players have been leaving two by two. The 2021 offseason will look to be no different as major stars flee the crumbling empire of Cal McNair’s Houston Texans