Houston Texans: The signing of TE Darren Fells signals shift in strategy

Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have signed tight end Darren Fells to a one-year deal. What does this signal? Let’s talk about how one guy is definitely in the hot seat.

The Houston Texans made some plausible hits in free agency this week to try to improve their roster for next season.  None of the signings would categorized as a splash but a testament to indicate for us to wait and see how they pan out for 2019.

So far, the Houston Texans have signed Tashaun Gipson, Bradley Roby, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, A.J. McCarron, Matt Kalil and Darren Fells, of which that means they’ve signed seven free agents this off season.  Fells is the only tight end that has been signed and certainly think that this move was warranted.

It’s not a flashy move but it can bode terrific results, especially if the 32-year-old buys into the schemes that Bill O’Brien and Tim Kelly are cooking up in this year’s campaign.

Fells, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end out of UC-Irvine that went undrafted in 2013 has had stops with the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions and most recently, the Cleveland Browns.  Fells had signed a three-year, $12 million deal before the start of last season but things did not pan out as they hoped in terms of his performance.

After reportedly not being successful in trading him, the Browns recently cut him and will take a modest cap charge of $1.4 million for this season.

That’s when the Houston Texans came calling and they were able to agree to terms with a tight end that still carries a lot of promise for his respective unit.

So what’s the one thing that Fells possesses that Ryan Griffin, Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins aren’t good at?

The ability to pass-block.

We all know how terrible our tight ends were last season in blocking schemes and Fells is actually quite good at it with his larger-than-life frame.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Fells had a 72.9 pass block grade to which, for all intents and purposes, would eclipse the entire tight ends unit of 2018.

Griffin (56.0), Thomas (56.0) and Akins (37.1) were hardly a threat in the blocking front and it certainly indicates a shift in the strategy for the offense.

Bar none — they want their tight ends to block more and Fells could be a mentor with his veteran status to help do that.

This also is a signal to Griffin that his seat is starting to heat up because he hasn’t quite yielded the production that the Houston Texans were expecting when he signed this three-year, $9 million deal with the team back in 2017.

This will be the last season of his pact and he’s owed a base salary of $2.25 million but the

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interesting thing is that there’s no cap charge if the team decides to cut him.

And you know what?  I’m positive Griffin knows this and he should be doing everything he can to not lose his job to a man that’s three years his senior and is in the twilight of his career.

I think the battle in training camp will be interesting because I just don’t see the Houston Texans carrying all four tight ends into the season.  There will be one that will be cut and it’s either going to be Fells or Griffin.  Methinks that it will be the latter but we’ll have to keep an eye out.

PFF also has Fells with a 65.9 overall grade, a 71.1 pass grade and a 55.9 run block grade for this past season through 420 snaps.  He was only used on just 38.5 percent of the team’s offensive snaps so that makes sense as to why his snap count appears to be quite low.

Fells had zero drops in the 12 targets he received last season and Griffin had two with the 25 that went his way.

I like the story line to this signing and I think you should be just as intrigued as well.

Let the competition begin!

Fells caught 11 balls for 117 yards — 10.6 yards per catch — and three touchdowns for a catch percentage of 91.7 through all 16 games for the Browns last season.

dark. Next. Texans: Five second-tier free agents to target

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