Day one of free agency has come to a close. The Houston Texans have added some potential starters. The franchise has also added key depth at important positions. Take a look at what’s going on.
Houston Texans fans may be slightly disappointed at the lack of star power that has been brought in thus far. The team missed out on free agency stars like Malcolm Butler, Jimmy Graham, Andrew Norwell, and Nate Solder. While netting any of this four would have undoubtedly improved the team, they all landed extremely large contracts (for good reason). Not having to pony up for one guy has allowed the team to begin to fill out holes in the roster.
Brain Gaine and his staff have done a solid job searching for ideal guys to come in and fill specific roles. Almost every player that the team has brought in so far has experience at multiple spots on the field.
Not only has the franchise brought in new players, they have retained the services of several key players from last year. The NFL off season is a delicate ballet act requiring decision makers to balance the current roster with the talents of those available.
Zach Fulton, OG
Zach Fulton is a former 6th round pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. Fulton has been a consistent starter for the Chiefs all four years of his career. While primarily a guard the majority of his career, he spent almost all of his time at center this past year. Fulton is widely regarded as an excellent pass blocker. Nick Martin seemed to be fairly secure at center, but this creates somewhat of a competition. Ultimately, I believe the best line the Texans will be able to suit out this year will have Fulton at guard and Martin at center. Fulton will earn $7.5 a year with the number of years undisclosed.
Senio Kelemete, OL
Senio Kelemete is an athletic, former defensive lineman from Washington University. Kelemete has spent the past four years of his five year career with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints fought hard to retain the services of Kelemete, but the opportunity for a starting job lured him to Houston. Kelemete will be an integral piece to the offensive line, regardless of whether or not he earns a starting spot. Kelemete spent time at left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle in 2017. In 2016 he also got time at center. In the past three years he has 22 games of starting experience. This deal with be $12 million over three years.
Angelo Blackson, DL
Angelo Blackson was a Texan this past season. He was a restricted free agent, but the team originally decided not to tender him. However, the team has brought him back on a one-year deal.
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Blackson will compete to be apart of the defensive line rotation.
Greg Mancz, OG/C
While Greg Mancz isn’t officially back yet, the Texans tendered the restricted free agent offensive lineman. Mancz has been an important depth piece for the past three years. Bringing him back should provide solid depth for this next year for this new offensive line.
Bruce Ellington, WR
The Texans have also brought back Bruce Ellington to the wide receiver corps. Ellington was an integral part of the wide receiver rotation in 2017. He accounted for 29 receptions and two touchdowns. Ellington will likely compete, and potentially earn, the third wide receiver spot. This journeyman wide receiver seems to have found his home in Houston. It’ll be a one year deal for Ellington.
Johnathan Joseph, CB
Johnathan Joseph has been a key leader for the Texans for the past seven years. The team has elected to bring him back for at least two more years. Joseph will come back and provide excellent leadership to this secondary. He should work well with free agent addition Aaron Colvin. Bringing Joseph back likely means the team is done bringing in free agent corners this off-season. However, look for the team to still try to bring one through the draft and add safety help through any means.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE
C.J. Fiedorowicz had his deal restructured late Wednesday night. It appeared that he was going to return after a concussion-marred season. However, it turns out that this was a de-escalator built into his last contract. The team placed Fiedorowicz on the reserve/retired list Thursday morning.
The team has added some solid players in free agency thus far. Highlighting areas of need like the secondary and offensive line. Look for the team to continue to add pieces in free agency as they look to fill holes before the draft.