NFL teams were first allowed to begin speaking with free agents on Monday, but nothing can become official until after the league year officially begins at 4p.m. on Wednesday. Some teams have gotten an early jump on remaking their rosters, particularly the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. However, what can we expect from the AFC South champion Houston Texans?
The quarterback position was an absolute disaster for Houston last season. Between inconsistent play and injuries, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Weeden largely split time as the team’s lead signal caller. With sub-par quarterback play and running back Arian Foster playing in only four games, Houston’s stellar defense was forced to carry the team into the postseason.
Texans’ owner Bob McNair realizes his team must improve at the position, but also underscored the difficulty of finding a true franchise player, “This isn’t a department store where they have them on the shelf, and you just pick one up. It’s a question of who’s available. We’re working on that. We think there are some good prospects out there.”
As Houston has few major free agents of their own (the biggest name is safety Rahim Moore), they will be able to focus their resources on the offensive side of the ball while keeping their dominant defense in tact.
With over $41 million in cap space and the 22nd pick in the draft, the Texans are in very good position to make some major improvements. They have recently been linked with unproven quarterback Brock Osweiler, who played in eight games for the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos last season. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport claims the Texans are “viewed as a legitimate threat to pry him (Osweiler) away from the Broncos.”
Osweiler is a big (6’7″!) quarterback with a strong arm who performed well in his relief of Peyton Manning. However, there is still much that is unknown about the young gunslinger, and the Texans must be wary before handing him the keys to the franchise. And at 22nd, the top two quarterbacks of the draft, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, will likely be long gone. Maybe they like Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook, but the general consensus is there is not a ton of quarterback talent in this draft.
In all honestly, Jets’ free agent (and former Texan) Ryan Fitzpatrick may be the best option for Houston. He had a tremendous season last year in New York, and is already familiar with star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. If Denver was able to win Super Bowl 50 with a lackluster Peyton Manning, Houston could have every chance to compete for a championship with Fitzpatrick managing games while leaning on that incredible defense.
If Houston is able to add a solid quarterback, improve their running game (maybe Lamar Miller or Ezekiel Elliot), and add a number two receiver opposite Hopkins (Marvin Jones?), they will be poised to make a deep playoff run in 2016.