The Houston Texans have quietly made some of the smartest moves this offseason. The presence of their moves have certainly not been nationally recognized, at least not at the caliber of other teams. In fact, NFL.com even listed the Texans among the losers of free agency thus far.
The New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles’ moves this offseason have been among the most talks. The Texans absence could, however, be a good thing, as the Eagles and Saints’ moves have been among the most scrutinized this offseason as well. What some don’t realize is that the moves the Texans have made have been pretty smart.
First, the Texans got rid of someone who was swallowing up a ton of cap space. According to overthecap.com, the Texans freed up several million dollars by letting wide receiver Andre Johnson go. The indication is that head coach Bill O’Brien simply wanted Johnson to take less throws, and Johnson left because he was not happy with that, but let’s be honest, if Johnson was taking up that much money, the Texans would probably want him to be involved on almost every down.
O’Brien had a lot of positives to say about Johnson’s legacy in Houston.
"“Andre Johnson will go down as one of the best receivers to ever play this game… I have a ton of respect for Andre. Andre did everything we asked him to do and then some, just a great player. He’ll always be a Houston Texan.”"
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Really, it seems they just wanted to get the cap money from him so they could sign some players. Either way, it was a smart move, in the end. Some were upset with Johnson’s departure after playing over a decade in Houston, but the NFL is a business, and sentimental value doesn’t normally count as a reason to keep a player around.
In business, people and players who don’t produce the best numbers are let go. With the looming question of Johnson’s age, and the projection of his stats heading in the negative direction, there was a lot of questions regarding the amount of money Johnson was getting.
O’Brien has made it clear that age is, in fact, a huge part of the decision making process for the Texans. They signed safety Rahim Moore, who has only been in the league for four years. Moore was, however, debating retirement. The Texans did extend some large performance based bonuses, and these speak a lot towards youth.
According to ESPN, a lot of the Texans youth was rewarded for their hard work. These bonuses are typically handed out to younger players, as they’re given to players with relatively low salaries, but the average experience of the three Texans mentioned is just over four years.
"The NFL released its performance-based pay today, and safety Kendrick Lewis, guard Ben Jones, and cornerback A.J. Bouye were the Houston Texans’ top three earners."
Another notable move the Texans made was letting linebacker Brooks Reed run free in the market, and he ended up getting a deal of $22 million over 5 years. It could be argued that it was incredibly smart to let Reed go to another team, and keep the money to put elsewhere. The Texans’ defense is already pretty good, and Reed wasn’t always considered a necessity for the team.
These moves were smart, but the smartest ones came in the quarterback position. The Texans traded away Ryan Fitzpatrick, after it was clear his age may render him unreliable. Again, the common factor of age shows up. They also re-signed Ryan Mallett, and brought in a new face: Brian Hoyer.
Both Mallett and Hoyer showed some promise last year. Mallet has only played in two seasons, and seven games, but played decently for the Texans last year. We only have gotten samples of Mallett so far, so it’s tough to say how well he could do in a true starting position.
On the other hand, Hoyer is much more experienced. While he wasn’t really a household name until last year, he’s entering his seventh season in the NFL. Last year was by far the highlight of his career, as he threw for over 3,000 yards in 14 games. His decent season was overshadowed by the drama surrounding the Browns’ other quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
As O’Brien has said, there will be a bit of a competition between the quarterbacks to determine who will be a starter. We should expect to see this competition during training camp. I think it will be a fun way of determining who the better man is.
While some of their offseason moves have clearly shown they are ready to take on the next season, their moves in the quarterback position show they’re ready to take on the the rest of the league. The drive to bring in a more youthful team could put the Texans at an advantage not only next year, but for years to come.