Fix-it Friday: The Houston Texans

The Texans are currently in a downward spiral. Their star QB in Deshaun Watson has made it known he’s not happy, their head coaching search appears to be going as smoothly as their general manager search went, and they are strapped for cash and draft picks.

But I’m here to offer some possible solutions to getting things back on track in Houston. With a star QB already on the roster (for now), they do currently have a leg up over the Jets and Jags.

The Texans finished the 2020 season with a 4-12 record, a far cry from the last two seasons of 10-6 and 11-5 seasons, but the same record as the 2017 season.

Former Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien mortgaged the future of this franchise before he was fired in the middle of the 2020 season. He traded away star receiver De’Andre Hopkins for a banged up running back and 2nd round pick. He also traded for LT Jeremy Tunsil the year before, giving up multiple first round draft picks, including this year’s first rounder that turned out to be 3rd overall. It will take a lot for the incoming predecessors to get this franchise back on track.

Cap Space: $-20.3

Head Coach and General Manager:

The Texans announced the hiring of former Patriots exec Nick Caserio, which generated a lot of talk and tweets out of players in Houston. While Caserio was in New England, the final say over the roster was held by Bill Belichick. Caserio was certainly able to learn under Belichick, but having never been the guy with final say, it will be interesting to see how he does in the new role. I do take his tenure in New England, despite all the championships, with a grain of salt; many have said Belichick the coach has saved Belichick the general manager many times.

The Texans head coach search has been the most interesting we’ve seen in a while. The seemingly two top candidates to start the hiring cycle were 49ers DC Robert Saleh and Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy. Reports surfaced that the Texans were the only team with a head coach opening to not reach out and request permission to interview either candidate. This really upset Deshaun Watson and has led to rumors of him debating whether to demand a trade.

Every team except the Texans have found their new head coach.Recent reports have led to the possibility that available candidates are no longer interested in the Texans’ head coach job. With minimal draft picks, negative cap space, and their star player thinking about demanding a trade, it’s not very appealing. I really have no idea who could or even should take this job. It might not be a bad idea for the candidates to stay where they are for another year and enter the hiring cycle next year.

Cut/Trade:

The Texans are in desperate need of cap space. They need to take a hard look at their roster and make some tough decisions.

David Johnson, RB – $7 million

Nick Martin, IOL – $7.5 million

Benardrick McKinney, LB – $7.7 million

Duke Johnson, RB – $5.5 million

Brandon Dunn, DE – $3.25 million

Zach Fulton, IOL – $3 million

Darren Fells, TE – $2.3 million

Senio Kelemete, IOL – $1.75 million

With all of these cuts, the Texans cap space would get into the plus side with $17.7 million in cap space. If the Texans decide to give in to Deshaun Watson and trade him, that will create an additional $5.66 million against the cap, as his salary for 2021 is $15.94 million and the dead cap for 2021 is $21.6 million. After 2021, the team that traded for Watson will eat just $5.4 million each year through 2024. All in all, that’s not a horrible outcome for the Texans.

On top of that, the Texans would clearly be rebuilding (again), so it would be wise to let go J.J. Watt. The face of the franchise for the past decade, this would be best for both sides. Watt can go to a competing team, and the Texans can clear another $17.5 million in cap space. The release of Watt may happen whether Watson is traded or not.

Resign:

Gareon Conley, CB

Will Fuller, WR

Dylan Cole, LB

Roderick Johnson, OT

Michael Thomas, FS

Tyrell Adams, LB

Brent Qvale, OT

Pharaoh Brown, TE

P.J. Hall, DL

Carlos Watkins, DL

Auzoyah Alufohai, DL

Buddy Howell, RB

Free Agency:

If the Texans don’t free up their cap space with the moves I mentioned above, their free agency will be very quiet. It may be quiet regardless, with the mess of the front office, the uncertainty around Watson, and the seemingly lack of interest in potential suitors for the head coach vacancy. I’ll still list the top free agents they should target in Tier One, but don’t get your hopes up, Texans’ fans.

Tier One:

Allen Robinson, WR

Chris Godwin, WR

Brandon Scherff, G

Joe Thuney, G

Justin Simmons, FS

Kenny Golladay, WR

Juju Smith-Schuster, WR

Matt Judon, EDGE

Hunter Henry, TE

Shaquill Barrett, EDGE

Leonard Williams, DL

Tier Two:

Melvin Ingram, EDGE

Sammy Watkins, WR

Mike Pouncey, C

Marcus Maye, S

Corey Linsley, C

Bud Dupree, EDGE

A.J Green, WR

Patrick Peterson, CB

Russell Okung, OT

T.Y. Hilton, WR

Anthony Harris, FS

Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

Lavonte David, LB

Alex Mack, C

Markus Golden, EDGE

K.J. Wright, LB

Corey Davis, WR

Alejandro Villanueva, OT

Jason McCourty, CB

Leonard Floyd, EDGE

Mike Hilton, CB

Malik Hooker, S

Olivier Vernon, EDGE

Jared Cook, TE

Keanu Neal, SS

Nelson Agholor, WR

Desmond King, CB

Tier Three:

Marvin Jones, WR

Josh Norman, CB

Tyler Kroft, TE

Ryan Kerrigan, EDGE

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

Kyler Fackrell, LB

Everson Griffen, EDGE

Sean Lee, LB

John Ross, WR

Daniel Sorensen, SS

Austin Blythe, G

Jimmy Smith, CB

Karl Joseph, SS

Demarcus Robinson, WR

Daryl Williams, OT

Andrew Sendejo, SS

Matt Skura, C

Quinton Dunbar, CB

Telvin Coleman, RB

Curtis Samuel, WR

Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Jason Verrett, CB

Taylor Moton, OT

Tedric Thompson, S

James White, RB

John Johnson, SS

Shaquill Griffin, CB

Tim Patrick, WR

Levi Wallace, CB

Draft:

Each pick will have multiple options, all depending on who may be available. These may be all options at one position, or a couple options at different positions.

Round Three:

67th Overall:

Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State

Seth Williams, WR, Auburn

Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State

Ronnie Perkins, EDGE, Oklahoma

Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

I didn’t make a mistake, the Texans first draft pick (currently) is 67th overall. Based on my options here, I’m clearly in the camp of drafting a receiver as soon as possible. The Texans can also look to China Hubbard to help their offense, or Landon Dickerson in an offensive line spot. Ronnie Perkins can be a great rotational piece this next year, then I imagine there will be a spot for him to start next year.

Round Four:

99th Overall:

Reggie Roberson, WR, SMU

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati

Hamilcar Rashed Jr., CB, Oregon State

Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson

Here are some more options that could be available at this pick if the Texans didn’t draft a receiver with their first pick in this draft. Breece Hall is another running back option to add some juice to this offense. Myjai Sanders and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. would be good depth picks with futures to start in a few years. Jackson Carman can add depth to the offensive line. I’m in favor of the Texans re-signing a few offensive tackles, but Carman would be a good depth piece with a chance to start in a few years.

112th Overall:

Caden Sterns, S, Texas

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Drake Johnson, IOL, Kentucky

Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

Dante Sills II, DL, West Virginia

This group of options is all about depth, with chances to start in a few years. The Texans need better depth in the secondary. They had a lot of injuries to the secondary late in the year, leaving them with minimal options. I am further pushing for the Texans to add a piece to their offensive line. We are not far from the Texans blockbuster trade for Laremy Tunsil that was very necessary. Tommy Tremble can add a young option with high upside to the tight end group. Dante Sills II had a big year that shows his upside, and the Texans defensive line has some older pieces that indicate a rebuild soon.

Round Five:

130th Overall:

Zamir White, RB, Georgia

Jalen Twyman, DL, Pitt

Ben Cleveland, IOL, Georgia

Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU

Once again, the Texans need to add weapons to their offense. I’m a big fan of Zamir White, I think he can be a Day Three steal. Jalen Twyman showed huge flashes this year, but he’s dropped a bit because of inconsistency. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben Cleveland is starting by the end of his first season wherever he is drafted. Kary Vincent Jr. is another player that had some really good flashes, but needs to work on consistently playing at a high level.

Round Six:

163rd Overall:

Tedarrell Slaton, DL, Florida

T.J. Carter, CB, Memphis

Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane

David Moore, IOL, Grambling

These are more clean-up options for whichever positions the Texans have yet to address. As you’ve probably noted, the Texans need depth in the secondary, in the trenches, and a rookie tight end would be a nice addition.

175th Overall:

Tariq Thompson, S, San Diego State

Tony Fields II, LB, West Virginia

Javian Hawkins, RB, Louisville

Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois

This is another group of positions the Texans can target late for depth. They should address the running back and receiver positions earlier, but if they don’t or even if they do, they can add one here.

187th Overall:

Monty Rice, LB, Georgia

Aaron Banks, IOL, Notre Dame

Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia

Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State

Round Seven:

193rd Overall:

Tommy Kraemer, IOL, Notre Dame

Bobby Brown III, DL, Texas A&M

Nick Eubanks, TE, Michigan

Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon

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