The Houston Texans have a lot of holes for a team that finished the season 11-5. With franchise cornerstones in Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt, Houston needs to accumulate talent in the secondary and offensive line, as well as build depth across the board. Let’s take a look at five free agents the Texans should take a serious look at once free agency begins.
Trent Brown – OT – New England Patriots
The Patriots traded for Brown last offseason to become Tom Brady’s blindside protector. In 2018, the Patriots gave up the third fewest sacks in the NFL at just 21. The Texans, on the other hand, gave up a league high 62 sacks—many of which were allowed by left tackle Julien Davenport. The Texans may opt to give Davenport another year at tackle, or simply use one of their three picks in the first two rounds of the draft to address the offensive line. If the Texans decide to go the free agency route, Trent Brown should be at the top of general manger Brian Gaine’s wish list. Brown is not elite in any one part of his game, however, even average left tackle play is crucial in today’s NFL. According to ProFootballFocus, Brown graded as an above average run and pass blocker, and would fit into the Texans’ offense perfectly.
Ja’Wuan James – OT – Miami Dolphins
Unfortunately for the Texans, the issues along the line do not stop at left tackle. The Texans played Seantrel Henderson, Martinas Rankin, Julien Davenport and Kendall Lamm at right tackle last season. Lamm was the best of the bunch, but can’t be seen as the long term answer at that spot. Enter Ja’Wuan James. Much like Trent Brown, James doesn’t excel in any one department, but offers a solid, all-around game that would instantly upgrade the Texans’ offensive line. James would come much cheaper than Brown, and would allow the Texans to give Julien Davenport one more year to prove himself as the long-term answer at left tackle. Don’t expect the Texans to splash on two offensive lineman, however.
Sheldon Richardson – DT – Minnesota Vikings
The importance of pass rushers simply cannot be overstated in the NFL. Many assume the Texans have an abundance of pass rushers with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus on the team, however, the Texans have absolutely zero interior pass rush, which hurt them tremendously in 2018. Opposing quarterbacks were able to routinely step up in the pocket and pick the Texans’ secondary apart, especially when Clowney and Watt lost contain on the edge—which happened quite frequently. Sheldon Richardson would be an expensive option here, however, I opted for him over Grady Jarret of the Atlanta Falcons. Richardson will likely sing a long-term deal with the Vikings, but paring Richardson with D.J. Reader in the middle of the Texans’ defensive line would allow for much more pass-rushing flexibility and would certainly improve their interior pass rush.
Jason Verrett – CB – Los Angeles Chargers
The free agent cornerback market is not strong this year, so the Texans may have to take some chances with who they sign. With Johnathan Joseph entering his 14th season, the Texans need to begin to build a new, young secondary. Verrett has faced injuries his entire career. He didn’t play in 2018, but could sign a deal similar to Tyrann Mathieu’s one-year prove-it deal a year ago. When it comes to the cornerback position, don’t expect the Texans to make any big moves in free agency. With the impending contracts of Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson in the secondary, look for Houston to use the draft as their main avenue to securing the future of their secondary. Players like Verrett, Bradly Roby and Bryce Callahan could be options for the Texans.
Levine Toilolo – TE – Detroit Lions
The Texans are in dire need of a “Y” tight end to help in blocking situations. Ryan Griffin, Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas simply don’t look like they will ever be able to help in blocking situations. With the issues along the line, Levine Toilolo could step in as the in-line tight end while Akins and Thomas focus on receiving duties. Toilolo could come cheap, and has experience catching passes from Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford. Not a flashy option by any means—but Toilolo could elevate the Texans’ offense in a pinch.