Houston Texans: Byron Jones should be a free agent target

The Houston Texans need to upgrade their secondary, and one way to do so is to sign Byron Jones in free agency.

There is no doubt about it that free agent cornerback Byron Jones is possibly the best available cornerback available in free agency, and there is also no doubt that the Houston Texans could really use him on their roster in 2020.

In ’19, the Texans had the following players graded by Pro Football Focus:

Gareon Conley — 63.2
Vernon Hargreaves III — 47.4
Bradley Roby — 66.8
Johnathan Joseph — 64.0
Phillip Gaines — 31.4

Cornerbacks who are free agents this offseason from the Texans roster are Roby, Joseph and Gaines, while Hargreaves and Conley each have at least one year remaining on their contract for 2020.

Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, the Texans don’t bring back any of the three main free agent cornerbacks (Roby, Joseph and Gaines). That leaves some space on the roster for the Texans to make some improvements to the secondary.

As for how Pro Football Focus graded Jones, this past season with the Cowboys he came in with a grade at 76.1, totaling 41 tackles, one forced fumble and on 53 targets by the opposing quarterback, allowed 30 receptions and had no interceptions.

In comparison to players on the Texans, they had the following numbers in ’19:

Gareon Conley — 10 games, 38 combined tackles (35 solo), one sack, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, one touchdown, one forced fumble, 68 targets (38 receptions allowed).

Vernon Hargreaves III — 15 games (Texans, Buccaneers), 61 combined tackles (52 solo), no sacks, six passes defensed, one interception, one touchdown, no forced fumbles, 88 targets (65 receptions allowed).

Bradley Roby — 10 games, 38 combined tackles (35 solo), one sack, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, one touchdown, one forced fumble, 60 targets (37 receptions allowed).

Johnathan Joseph — 14 games, 51 combined tackles (43 solo), no sacks, 13 passes defensed, one interception, no forced fumbles, 78 targets (48 receptions allowed).

Phillip Gaines — six games, 13 combines tackles (12 solo), no sacks, two passes defensed, no interception, no forced fumbles, 20 targets (12 receptions allowed).

If the Texans were to sign Jones, what there is to like most about Jones is he’s a young NFL veteran who has played at a high level and on a team that brings a high level of pressure on a national stage, being a member of the Cowboys for the past five seasons after being a first-round pick back in 2015 from UConn.

In his five seasons, Jones has played in 79 regular-season games and has combined for 349 tackles (270 solo), with 44 passes defensed and two interceptions.

In adding Jones, the Texans would be gaining a player who is 27 years old and a player who has missed just one game in the regular season (coming in ’19), so having a player with durability would be a plus for a Texans secondary who saw their shares of injuries in ’19.

Also with Jones, he has the size and ability to play safety if called upon, and the Texans have the capital to pay his new contract. In ’19, Jones made a little over $6 million for the season, but even more than that, the defense of the Texans would gain a veteran player who could help be a leader for the unit.

Next: Texans: An early look ahead at the 2020 NFL Draft

The Texans have some important decisions to make this offseason, and for pending free agent Jones, the Texans need to be interested in adding quality players to compete for not only regular-season success, but extended playoff success as well.

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