The Houston Texans offseason grade heading into the NFL draft

Houston Texans GM Brian Gaine (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Houston Texans GM Brian Gaine (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans let some key players walk in free agency but have added others. Let’s take a look at how the offseason grades out ahead of the NFL draft.

The offseason has flown by so far. The NFL Draft is hours away from beginning. The rumor mill is that endlessly churns regarding the prospects that will be selected can finally stop. Smokescreens, real and fake, will be revealed. We’ll finally know what happens with the first pick and, more importantly, what the Houston Texans will do to improve their team.

The Texans have done a pretty good job filling holes along their roster to allow them to not have to reach for needs in the draft and utilize a true best player available strategy. Sure, they didn’t add any superstars through free agency or trade but they added guys to fill holes along the roster to further build a contender.

They started off with bolstering the secondary that lost Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson with Tashaun GipsonBradley Roby, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Following those three additions, the Texans also have Darren Fells to provide a blocking presence at the tight end position, A.J. McCarron to back up Deshaun Watson, and Matt Kalil to strengthen the offensive line.

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It hasn’t been a flashy offseason but has been pretty solid and cost-effective. The Texans have filled several holes on both sides of the ball that will allow the team to pursue the players that they covet most and think are the best when their picks roll around and not reach to ensure holes are filled.

Losing Mathieu and Jackson was a tough pill to swallow. The Houston Texans wanted Mathieu back but the Chiefs were willing to back a couple of Brinks trucks up to get him. The team let Jackson walk with little to no contest. He’ll be missed but he was expensive and is getting older.

Replacing these two guys with Gipson and Roby is about as good as the team and fans could have hoped in this year’s free agency market. Gipson is a tight end eraser with great ball skills. His style of play is a perfect complement to Justin Reid. Roby brings tremendous speed and has upside for days, there’s risk but on a one-year deal, it’s worth it.

Boddy-Calhoun is an intriguing addition, especially in light of Andre Hal‘s retirement. He has experience in the slot and at safety, places where Hal excelled for the Houston Texans. With Aaron Colvin able to man the slot, Boddy-Calhoun could be the team’s third safety if it isn’t addressed in the draft.

The additions of Fells is the definition of solid yet unspectacular. He is a very, very good blocker and having him next to either tackle will make the offensive line better and ultimately help protect Watson. In McCarron, the Texans have a very capable, younger QB to back up Watson, he’s the best backup QB the team has ever had, already. He is capable of stepping in case of injury and can spot start if the offensive line isn’t able to keep DW4 healthy in 2019.

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Finally, the last external addition was Kalil to come in and battle Julien Davenport for the left tackle job. The addition of Kalil may mean the team doesn’t go offensive tackle tonight (Thursday night) in the first round of the draft. He hasn’t been good in a while but he has also been banged up. If he can recapture his 2015 form, the line will be in good shape. However, this move doesn’t give me confidence.

Quickly, let’s run through the Houston Texans retentions in free agency. The kept Ka’imi Fairbairn who was a great kicker last year. The defensive line trio of Joel Heath, Angelo Blackson, and Brandon Dunn are terrific depth pieces. DeAndre Carter was electric in the return and very capable as a depth receiver. Joe Webb is a special teams ace and backup QB/WR, guys like that have great value. Brennan Scarlett was also retained and he is a good backup linebacker and special teamer.

Many wanted the Houston Texans to have a big, flashy offseason. They had a very, very good 2018 season that had a historic win streak. Then, they collapsed in the playoffs against the Colts. Some believed they needed flashy moves to take the next step but the organization seemed to disagree.

They made a plethora of solid moves that may not impress the casual fan. However, the didn’t spend a ton of money guys that aren’t guaranteed to help and added a lot of depth and a few solid starters. Time will tell how these guys pan out but before the draft, I’ll give Brain Gaine and the rest of the Houston Texans brass a B-. This can either jump tremendously or fall tremendously depending on how the draft shakes out.

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What are your thoughts on the Houston Texans offseason so far? What are things that could happen in the draft that would drop or lower your grade? Let us know in the comments below!