Houston Texans: Will Darren Fells return in 2020?

Darren Fells of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Darren Fells of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The contract of Darren Fells has finished, and now the Houston Texans have a decision to make this offseason.

With the Houston Texans losing this past Sunday in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, it is time to start making decisions on free agents, and one of those players for the Texans is tight end Darren Fells.

Fells has played six seasons in the NFL, and is coming off a deal where his one-year contract with the Texans was $1.5 million with all things included. If the Texans want to keep him on the roster this year, according to the “calculated market value” of Spotrac.com Fells — at 33 years old — has a market value of $4.3 million per season, as they have him ranked as the 23rd overall tight end in the league.

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It is highly doubt Fells gets $4.3 million for a single season in 2020 per his calculated market value, but the Texans do need to think about keeping Fells on their roster as an insurance policy as that was the case this past season when Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins either didn’t play at all this season, or missed important games due to injury as Akins did in the playoffs.

In the ’19 regular season, Fells totaled 34 receptions (48 targets) for 341 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 10.0 yards per reception, which is the lowest of his career. That said, this season Fells had the most receptions in a season since he joined the NFL, and he had the most touchdowns he’s gained in a season as well.

The playoffs (two games) saw Fells total seven receptions on 12 targets for 59 yards and one touchdown.

Fells also caught for the most yards he’s ever caught for in a season, with his previous best being 311 yards on 21 receptions with three touchdowns (22.2 ypr.) in 2015 while a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

Though Fells was third with seven receiving touchdowns as a tight end, Pro Football Focus gave him an overall grade for the ’19 season at 60.0, which is down from 65.0 in ’18 as a member of the Cleveland Browns. In ’18, Fells had 11 receptions for 12 targets with three touchdowns.

Fells was the sixth-leading receiver for Houston in ’19, and he was the second-best tight end in receiving yards gained, training Akins, who totaled 36 receptions for 418 yards and two touchdowns.

Fells ranked 38th overall in yards per game for a tight end at 21.31 ypg, with his numbers comparable to Hayden Hurst of the Baltimore Ravens (21.81), and Nick Boyle also of the Ravens (20.06).

If the Texans want to bring Fells back at around the same rate of money they did this season, that would be fine for him to battle for a roster spot. Thomas and Akins need to be the focal point of the Houston tight end group moving forward.

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Having Fells on the roster with the same role as this past season isn’t such a bad thing either.