The NFL trade deadline days was ticking along with rumors and suggestions flying around. Then the Houston Texans kicked it all off as they traded for Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos. The Texans had to give up a fourth round pick to make the deal happen. There is also a seventh round pick swap which should be in Houston’s favor come draft time. The Texans were not the team on the lips of most of the NFL so this was somewhat of a surprise for many. However, when you think about it it probably should not have been.
Offensive weapon required
The Texans lost Will Fuller for the rest of the season last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins. In that game Fuller was one of just five players to be targeted by Desean Watson, and one of just three to register over one reception. Therefore, his loss was massive, especially with rookie Keke Coutee unable to stay on the field this season. The Texans needed to go out and add an offensive weapon if they were to compete this year. Thomas gives them just that weapon.
A lot of people seem to think Thomas is over the hill. His yards per game have dropped significantly the last three years, despite his catch rate staying fairly stable. The reason for that is that Thomas has had to deal with some terrible quarterback play. First, Peyton Manning crumbled and then most recently Case Keenum became Case Keenum all over again. Watson will be the best quarterback he has played with in the last three years and there is a real chance he can bounce back to post similar per game numbers to the 80 yards he had in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Thomas’ contract is not as bad as I thought it would be. This year his cap number was $4,500,000 and next year he can be released without any dead cap hit. Even if he is retained his number would be $14 million which is not a bank breaking number. From a contract point of view this makes a ton of sense for the Texans. There is very low risk this year and they can but bait next year without any penalty.
So calling this weeks game a must-win game is a little exaggeration. Even if they lose then the Texans will at worst be tied first in the division coming out of their bye. Even for that to happen the Titans have to win both games. Therefore, this game cannot truly be considered must-win. However, there are two sneaky tough games on the Texans schedule. They still have to travel to the Redskin and the Eagles, which are both very loseable games. Therefore, winning this game means they can afford to lose one or both of those games and still have a real shot at winning this division.
So apart from the obvious there is another reason adding Thomas before this game is key. Their next game is against the Denver Broncos, Thomas’ old team. That means that Thomas is going to be extremely busy the next few days. Not only will he need to get up to speed on some of the Texans plays but will almost certainly be breaking down the Broncos offensive playbooks for the Texans defense. He will also be telling them code-words and anything he can think of. The same goes for the defense. He will not intimately know the calls but he will know some things about how to attack this defense given he was doing it daily in training. He may even know the odd call that he can tell his new quarterback. If nothing else it is just an added headache for the Broncos to think about this week. A very minor point but just an added bonus for the Texans this week.
Dante Fowler Jr. Headed To Los Angeles
Fowler has failed to make a major impact since the Jacksonville Jaguars took him number three overall. Now he is heading to the Los Angeles Rams. There he will serve a similar role to what he has been, as a rotational pass rusher. For both teams this is a win. The Rams continue to try and capitalise on their window and build a power house on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars get a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick for a player who was set to walk at the end of the season. However, is this the Jaguars beginning to admit that they just do not have it in the 2018 season? Maybe not completely but Fowler would have been a useful piece down the stretch.
Image credit: CBS sports