The Houston Texans are coming off a 10-6 season with a Division Title and an all-time playoff loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. Here’s a run-through of the team’s offseason moves in order of importance.
Texans Trade WR DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 4th round pick for RB David Johnson, a 2020 2nd-round pick and 2021 4th-round pick
Not only is this the most important move this offseason, this a top-three event in Texans history. And it might not be No. 3 and it might not be No. 2. After what has been reported as a deteriorating relationship between Deandre Hopkins and General Manager and Head Coach Bill O’Brien. This story continues to look worse for O’Brien after Michael Irvin’s story of a meeting where O’Brien brought up Aaron Hernandez.
Hopkins, one of the Top 3 wide receivers in the NFL, apparently asked for more money, which got him shipped out. Somehow, Hopkins’ value got depressed to the point where the Texans weren’t able to bring back a first-round pick for the star. His return, compared to the one the Vikings got for Stefon Diggs, does not make the Texans look good.
Texans Trade:— Ari Alexander (@KPRC2Ari) March 17, 2020
4th Rd Pick
2nd Rd Pick
4th Rd Pick
7th Rd Pick
1st Rd Pick
4th Rd Pick
5th Rd Pick
6th Rd Pick
The Texans wanted more draft picks but only got one extra pick in the trade. David Johnson will replace Carlos Hyde, but there are questions about what Johnson has left after a difficult year in Arizona, where he lost his starting job to Kenyan Drake.
The Cincinnati Bengals sign DT D.J. Reader away from the Texans, Texans re-sign Brandon Dunn
This one is more of a move the Texans didn’t make than a move the team made. D.J. Reader made a massive jump in 2019 and turned into one of the best defensive tackles in all of football. Someone was going to reward him with a huge contract, and it wasn’t the Texans. The Texans drafted Reader in the 5th round and got four strong years out of him. Reader’s 4-year $53 million deal makes him one of the highest-paid defensive tackles in the game - which makes sense since he was rated the #5 player at that position by Pro Football Focus.
Meanwhile, the Texans could use Brandon Dunn in Reader’s role. The Texans re-signed Dunn to a three-year $12 million contract in February.
The Texans make a ton of moves at cornerback: Roby and others re-signed, Johnathan Joseph gone
The Houston Texans secondary has replaced the offensive line as the team’s greatest area of concern. The secondary was mostly responsible for the complete breakdown in the 51-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. On a simple level, the Texans were 29th in passing yards per game allowed. On a closer level, the team ranked 28 in coverage by Pro Football Focus. Either way, it’s not good.
In 2019, the team went into the season with Johnathan Joseph at one cornerback spot, Aaron Colvin at another and Bradley Roby at slot corner. Rookie Lonnie Johnson was expected to play first back up. Colvin was quickly cut after a horrendous first game and Johnson took over. Johnson had a lot of growing pains as a rookie and finished the season tied for the most touchdowns given up by a cornerback.
During the season, the team picked up former first-round picks Gareon Conley and Vernon Hargreaves, both players who had worn out their welcomes in Oakland and Tampa respectively.
Fast forward to 2020, Johnathan Joseph is gone, but the team re-signed everyone else. Conley is still under contract. The Texans re-signed Hargreaves to a cheaper deal than the roughly $10 million he was set to be owed in 2020 (The Texans cut, then re-signed Hargreaves to save money). The Texans re-signed former Rice standout Phillip Gaines to a cheap deal.
The biggest deal, both in terms of money and importance, is Bradley Roby. The cornerback signed with the Texans for three years and $36 million. Roby had some injuries in 2019, but mostly played well for the Texans. He played 10 games and racked up a PFF coverage score of 68.9. Roby will enter 2020 as the Texans No. 1 cornerback.
- Projected Texans Cornerbacks 2020
- Right Cornerback: Bradley Roby
- Left Cornerback: Gareon Conley
- Slot Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves
- Backup Cornerback: Lonnie Johnson
- Backup Cornerback: Phillip Gaines
The Texans get their wide receiver - Randall Cobb
In response to losing DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans replaced their star wide receiver by signing former Green Bay Packer and Dallas Cowboy Randall Cobb to a three-year $27 million contract. Cobb is a solid signing and a very strong No. 3 slot type wide receiver. He is not a replacement for Deandre Hopkins.
Tight end Darren fells is back
One of the underrated Texans signings of 2019 was veteran tight end Darren Fells. Fells set a team tight end record with 7 touchdown catches. Fells re-signed with the Texans for two years, $6.3 million. Houston has a ton of backup tight ends just in case Fells doesn’t work out in Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins and Kahale Warring.
Special teams move
The Texans brought back kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn on a 4-year $17.6 million contract. Fairbairn is guaranteed $9 million on that deal and is the Texans kicker in the near future. Kick returner and current No. 4 wide receiver DeAndre Carter is back on a cheap deal.
Texans sign safety Eric Murray as secondary help
Former Cleveland Browns safety Eric Murray will join the Texans on a three-year $20 million deal. Murray is a versatile defensive back who has played extended snaps at both Free Safety and Slot Corner. Murray could be both an insurance policy for any cornerbacks that get injured, or if Tashaun Gipson can’t stay healthy. Outside of 2019, when Murray missed 7 games with a knee injury, he missed only three total games in his first three seasons.
Texans re-sign A.J. McCarron as backup QB
No change here in the quarterback room - McCarron is back just in case something happens to Deshaun Watson. As far as backup quarterbacks go, he’s fine.