Houston Texans: Five steps the team must take in the 2020 offseason

Houston Texans chairman Cal McNair and head coach Bill O'Brien (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Texans chairman Cal McNair and head coach Bill O'Brien (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

After a disappointing end to their season, the Houston Texans have a lot of offseason decisions ahead of them. What moves should they make? Find out below.

Up 24-0 with 10:54 remaining in the second quarter it appeared that the Houston Texans were finally going to advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs and would not only make it to their first AFC Championship game in franchise history but get to host the AFC Championship. But everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Houston began to unravel and before you knew it Kansas City scored 41 unanswered points. What started out as promising for the Houston Texans turned into a 51-31 blowout loss.

This offseason will be critical to how successful the Houston Texans will be in the future because Baltimore, Kansas City, and Tennessee are not going away next year. Before I address what Houston needs to do this offseason I must first clear up one topic: Bill O’Brien’s future.

I’ll be the first to admit that I believe Bill O’Brien needs to be let go, but the fact is he will not be fired. O’Brien has three years left on his salary and the Houston Texans are not willing to eat up his salary so that they can hire a new coach. Not only that but after the playoff loss, Deshaun Watson backed O’Brien saying that O’Brien has his support. As hard as it is for most Texans fans to swallow, Bill O’Brien will be the head coach of the Houston Texans for the 2020 season.

Now that O’Brien’s future has been made clear let’s take a look at how the Houston Texans should address the offseason.

1. Get Secondary Help

The Texans secondary was a major issue during the 2019 season. Houston’s defense gave up 4,276 passing yards, which is the fourth most in the NFL, and 33 passing touchdowns in the regular season. Changes must be made.

Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves, Gareon Conley, and Lonnie Johnson Jr. and safety Justin Reid will return to Houston for the 2020 season, but most of these guys are young and still developing.

Bradley Roby, who was Houston’s best cornerback all season, is a free agent. I think the Houston Texans should and will try to bring Roby back but there is no guarantee he will return to Houston for the 2020 season.

The Texans have about $60 million in cap space right now, although a large chunk will likely be used to extend Deshaun Watson, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is the top free agent on the market for teams who need secondary help. In all likelihood, the Cowboys are not going to be able to resign Jones especially if they plan to open their checkbook to resign quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. If Jones is going to have to find a new home then the Texans should definitely pursue him, as he would provide a huge boost to their secondary.

Safety Justin Simmons is another top-notch free agent. Simmons has expressed his desire to stay in Denver but if Simmons and the Broncos are unable to reach a deal then Houston should definitely give him a look.

Other notable free agents in the secondary that might be worth the Texans taking a look at include safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Devin McCourty and cornerback Logan Ryan.

The bottom line is the Texans have to be willing to spend the money to bring in help to bolster their secondary.

2. Draft pass rushers

The Texans ranked 26th in the league in sacks this season. The failure of Houston’s defense to consistently get pressure on the quarterback played a major role in why teams were able to pass the ball so well against the Texans.

Whitney Merciulus and Jacob Martin have proven their ability to pressure the quarterback from the outside linebacker position, but the Texans really did not have a defensive lineman who can consistently get to the quarterback. Defensive end J.J. Watt is an elite pass rusher but has struggled to stay healthy and is only getting older.

The Texans, who do not have a first-round pick, need to focus their draft on pass rushers. Drafting pass rushers will not only increase the number of times the defense gets to the quarterback but will also decrease the time the opposing quarterback has to throw which puts less pressure on the secondary.

3. The Houston Texans should extend Deshaun Watson

This is the most obvious offseason move for Houston and definitely something that should be at the top of the Texans offseason agenda. Watson’s ability to use his athleticism to extend plays and turn blown up plays into SportsCenter Top 10 highlights makes him an elite NFL quarterback and someone the Texans need to keep around for as long as possible.

Watson is approaching a big payday as he enters the final season of his rookie contract so it is very important that the Texans work out a deal and give Watson a new contract so that he remains in Houston for the long run.

4. Decide on right guard Zach Fulton’s future

The Texans offensive line, who allowed the most sacks in 2018, certainly showed signs of improvement this season but there is still work that needs to be done.

Houston has established the cornerstone of their offensive line by adding one of the top left tackle’s in the NFL in Laremy Tunsil to protect Watson’s blindside. Rookies Max Scharping and

More from House of Houston

Tytus Howard were a boost to the offensive line this season and displayed signs of a promising future.

But the big question is the future of right guard Zach Fulton. Fulton, who only allowed one sack all season and rarely misses a game, has two years remaining on his contract and will make $7 million each season. But the Texans have the option of cutting Fulton from the roster without having to carry any dead money.

So this decision really boils down to if cutting Fulton is worth freeing up an extra $7 million in cap space each of the next two seasons.

5. Bring back Carlos Hyde

The Texans face a tough decision regarding running backs this offseason. While Duke Johnson will

return to Houston for the 2020 season, Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller are free agents. Houston is faced with a tough decision on whether to bring back both Hyde and Miller, bring back only one of these two, or bring back neither of them.

In my opinion, Hyde should be the back that the Texans focus on bringing back.

Hyde had the best season of his career in 2019 as he rushed for his first career 1,000-yard season. Along with Hyde’s phenomenal season on the ground, he and Johnson paired really well together and provide the Texans offense with a nice one-two punch at the running back position.

Next. Texans: Johnathan Joseph may have played final game with team. dark

Overall, doing these things this offseason will not immediately solve all the Texans issues, but it will certainly be a step in the right direction and give Houston the best chance to make a deep playoff run in 2020.