With the combine in the rear view mirror free agency is hurtling towards us at a great speed. The free agency period is often fast and frantic to begin with before settling down into a more slow and sedate pace. In this series of articles we will be looking who are the best fits for each of the AFC South teams in the coming few weeks. First up was the Indianapolis Colts and now it is the turn of the Houston Texans.
The Texans, much like the Colts, have a great deal of cap flexibility in the coming weeks. That flexibility allows them to target a number of options in free agency, and to bring in some really talented players with a lot of experience. It could be a fun few weeks in Houston.
1. Lamarcus Joyner (Safety)
When I looked at the state of the franchise for the Texans I did not see safety as a major need. However, that was because I expected them to resign Tyrann Mathieu prior to the start of free agency. That has not happened and now the Texans have a hole to fill. There are four main options available but for me Joyner is the best fit. Joyner is capable of providing both support in the box and is able to act as the deep player. That sort of versatility is vital for the Texans.
The other main potential options are Landon Collins, Earl Thomas and Mathieu. Collins is more of a run stuffer, while Thomas has age and injury question marks. Mathieu is as good a fit as Joyner so it may come down to cash. The safety class this year is extremely deep and the Texans could have their pick of up to seven or eight guys. The benefit is that they should be able to get a good price on at least one of these guys. With Kareem Jackson also a free agent it is possible the Texans could splash the cash on a couple of these guys.
2. Ronald Darby (Corner)
The Texans released former first round pick Kevin Johnson earlier this week. That turned their need for a corner into an absolute must get. Unfortunately, this is a not a good year class for the corner market. Darby is coming off a major injury but is the most talented. However, they would need to be comfortable with where he is at before they commit.
The other options are the likes of Bradley Roby, who struggled last year in an increased role, Bryce Callahan, who was a good slot corner but is unproven on the outside and Pierre Desir, who put in a good performance against the Texans in the playoffs last year. They could also bring back Jackson but he is more likely to be a safety for them again in 2019.
3. Roger Saffold (Guard)
The offensive line is a black hole for the Texans. They need both talent and experience and Saffold fills that. Saffold is by far the best guard available in this class and that presents a problem. When one player stands head and shoulders above the rest, and have recent dominant tape, see the Rams game against the Cowboys, his price is always going to be extremely high.
There are other, lesser, options available in the class. However, while the Texans would still be getting experience with those options, they will be sacrificing on talent. If they believe they can draft a guard of the future this year then perhaps they just need a one or two year stop gap. However, there is no better way to help an offensive line grow than to put a dominant centre piece in place, to develop the group around.
4. Trent Brown (Tackle)
The Texans really need an upgrade in every element of the offensive line this offseason. Brown may not be the most physically talented tackle in this free agency class, but he is among the top three. However, the link here is that Brown was with the New England Patriots last season. With Bill O’Brien’s history in New England he is likely to prioritise bringing in a player who had success there. A good example is that we saw O’Brien take a run at signing Nate Solder last season, ultimately missing out to the New York Giants.
There are other options at tackle but Brown just seems to be the right fit with the New England link. My concern is that as such a big tackle he may struggle protecting a mobile quarterback. Brown’s size was extremely useful when protecting a quick release quarterback in Tom Brady. However, his size may count against him if Desean Watson needs time and freedom to move around the pocket.
5. Sheldon Richardson (Defensive Tackle)
Christian Covington is a free agent this season and it leaves a need to fill the defensive tackle spot. The simple solution would just be to draft one but the Texans could go for broke on the defensive line. Signing Richardson and lining him up between Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt would make for one of the most dominant defensive fronts in the league.
If Richardson is too expensive then a player who had struggles last year that may have affected his market is Ndamukong Suh. If the market for Suh is quiet then he could be an absolute monster signing for the Texans.
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