Houston Texans: Team must target free agent OT Trent Brown

Free agent offensive tackle Trent Brown, who should be a target by the Houston Texans (Photo by Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
Free agent offensive tackle Trent Brown, who should be a target by the Houston Texans (Photo by Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty Images) /

Perhaps the Houston Texans most daunting task this off season is to improve their offensive line. Here’s why the team must target FA Trent Brown.

The Houston Texans have a smorgasbord of priorities this off season to avenge an embarrassing 21-7 Wild Card round exit against the Indianapolis Colts this past season.  Yes, the Houston Texans did find a way to sprint themselves out to an 11-5 record — good for the second-best mark in franchise history — but with the obvious way how the team imploded in the postseason, there’s changes that need to be made.

They’ve revamped their offensive coaching staff by promoting Tim Kelly and Will Lawing while hiring quarterback guru/coach Carl Smith and former Texans QB T.J. Yates to the staff.

Now that the new staff is in place, work will now begin on improving the offensive line.  Will they beef things up via free agency?  How about the draft?

It will likely be the latter because this draft is expected to have quite a few talented tackles available and the pickings will be slim among the free agent class of 2019.

But there’s one tackle that the Houston Texans need to set their sights on and it’s Trent Brown.

Brown is reeling from a Super Bowl win with the New England Patriots and he continued to get better as the season wore on.

With such high demand for talented offensive lineman like he, he’s going to command a sizable boost of money and that’s something the Pats don’t do, pay their free agents handsomely.  As you know, that includes Tom Brady, whose $15 million for 2019 is good enough for 5th among quarterbacks.

There’s no way the Pats will pay Brown that money so it’s probably likely that Brown will be saying his goodbyes to the organization.

Let’s dig into how good he was last season.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the 26-year-old Brown had a 71.0 overall grade, 71.6 pass block, and 65.4 run block grade for 2018.  He had a remarkable 82.7 pass block grade against the Houston Texans back in Week 1.

Although he still has some growing to do, he still could potentially help the Houston Texans improve their pass protection of Deshaun Watson.  However, he tied the amount of pressure he gave up in 2016 (39), allowing 24 QB hurries, 12 QB hits and three sacks on the season.

But the most important thing to note that when the bright lights came on in this past season’s playoffs, he shined when offered the opportunity.  Yes, he gave up 39 pressures on the season but during the Pats’ trips to the divisional, championship and Super Bowl rounds, he only gave up FOUR pressures and they were all QB hurries.  He neither gave up a QB hit nor a sack during that vital stretch which speaks to his ability to come through in the clutch.

The Houston Texans need somebody like that. 

Although Brown is much more effective on the left side of the line, he has proven that he can play right tackle so that versatility alone makes him quite appealing to the Houston Texans.

Brown took all of his 1,336 snaps at LT this past season but took 1,552 snaps at RT over the previous two seasons (2016-17) and was able to generate a 61.9 and 73.0 grade respectively out of each season while he played alongside former teammate Nate Solder.

Although he was penalized the 2nd-most amount of times of his career in 2018 with 10 of those to his credit, he only had ONE during the playoffs and that was during the Super Bowl.

Brown, a 6-foot-8, 380-pound, 2015 7th-round pick has developed into a player to which WalterFootball.com refers to him as a player who could eventually emerge to a Pro-Bowl level offensive tackle.

Brown is a Top 50 tackle — he’s ranked 30th — in regard to his pass blocking efficiency, a rating

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that PFF says “measures pressures allowed on a per-snap basis with weighting toward sacks allowed.” He currently has a 96.7 rating among tackles with at least 363 snaps.

It does help that the Pats’ offensive line was 7th-best in PBE with an 87.8 to their credit.

Do you know who was dead last?  Yep, you guessed it, the Houston Texans had an 80.4 PBE.  I’m sure you’re not too surprised about that stat as Watson ran for his life plenty this season when the pocket would collapse.

Moreover, Solder set the bar last season for the asking price for talented tackles when he signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the New York Giants this past off season. He’s currently the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

But based off Brown’s stats and his potential to yet be great, I think the Houston Texans can squeeze him into a team-friendly deal.  I think the Texans could probably snag him for a four-year, $32 million deal to which $8 million per season would be a heck of a lot more than the $1.9 million base salary that he made in 2018.

So is Brown the elixir-fixer?  Not entirely but he’d be vast improvement above what this team has at tackle with the developing Julién Davenport and Martinas Rankin (to which I hope they convert the latter to a guard).  Kendall Lamm is a free agent and if the Houston Texans want to go cheap again on the line and draft a tackle, Lamm is almost certainly a lock to return for depth purposes.

The situation at tackle is dire and the team really needs to focus their resources at improving this vital position.

I propose that Brown would be a great start toward that notion.

dark. Next. Texans: Five free agents the team should target

Let’s stay tuned in regard to what happens over the next few weeks, especially after free agency opens March 13.