The Houston Texans were one of the most entertaining teams to watch during the 2018 NFL season, and they experienced a fair amount of success. But this is a team that has the potential for so much more.
So, how can the Texans realize that potential? How can they win the NFL offseason and emerge as a true championship contender?
It starts with the offensive line: Last year, Houston’s offensive line was a travesty.
- Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times — the league’s first 60-plus-sack season since 2006.
Steps to fix it: The Texans must use the draft and free agency to improve this area of desperate need.
- Houston owns the No. 23 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s plausible that players like Jawaan Taylor, Dalton Risner and Greg Little will still be on the board. Taking the offensive tackle that the team grades highest here is the logical step to fixing the offense’s pass-protecting woes.
- Though the free agency market is thin on the offensive line, adding a veteran like Daryl Williams would be a huge boost in both the run and passing game.
Keep your own: Houston has a number of big-time free agents of its own who could leave. Retaining some of these will be critical to sustained success.
- Jadeveon Clowney is a huge key on defense. He will almost certainly be retained via the franchise tag if no long-term deal is reached by the deadline.
- Bring back Tyrann Mathieu. Based on everything coming out of Houston this offseason, the Texans want the dynamic safety back in 2019. Make it happen.
- Veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson is so valuable. Don’t let him sign elsewhere.
The open market: With plenty of cap space to spend this offseason, general manager Brian Gaine should be aggressive bringing in talent to surround Watson.
- The tight end market isn’t loaded this spring, but landing a player like Jesse James, Erik Swoope, Ricky Seals-Jones or even going a bit more expensive for Jared Cook would give Watson yet another dangerous weapon in the middle of the field.
- Tevin Coleman would be a tremendous addition to the backfield and would help spell Lamar Miller. Other options include Mark Ingram, pass-catching specialist T.J. Yeldon, or even grizzled veteran Adrian Peterson.
The big splash: If Houston really wants to swing for the fences, it could make an aggressive offer to land one of this year’s top free agents.
- The biggest splash the Texans could make is signing running back Le’Veon Bell to pair with Miller. Houston’s offense would be insanely dynamic if Bell were to come and join Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee.
- Defensively, Houston could make a play for Earl Thomas, who recently moved his family to nearby Austin. Thomas, of course, wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys. But he might be enticed to help elevate Houston’s defense rise to the top of the NFL.
The bottom line: Houston has the assets to make vast improvements this offseason, both via the draft and in free agency. If the Texans can protect Watson in the passing game, retain their top free agents on defense and add a few more pieces, this team can become a legitimate Super Bowl contender.