Retaining D.J. Reader should be Houston Texans top priority

D.J. Reader #98 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
D.J. Reader #98 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Houston Texans have a pivotal player hitting free agency this upcoming offseason.

D.J. Reader is a dying breed of nose tackles still demanding top dollar in this league, but the Houston Texans should do their due diligence in order to keep him. Drafted in the fifth round, Reader overcame obstacles that late-round players face as they compete for playing time with players with bigger pedigrees.

Although Reader was no small prospect coming from Clemson’s football program, he was an afterthought in Clemson’s stacked defense. However, he continued making unheralded plays that helped put his teammates in a position to get drafted and he put himself in the radar for Houston to select him in the 2016 draft.

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Now at the NFL level, Reader came into his own as he earned praise from teammates and coaches alike. His talent was on full display in his rookie season that the Texans opted not to re-sign Vince Wilfork after his contract expired at the end of the 2016 season.

Reader became a plug and player for the Texans accruing 154 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks through his first four seasons.

His impact has gone beyond his statistics as his teammates have played exceptionally well with Reader in the starting lineup.

Reader’s ability to take on double teams has been an asset for the Texans front seven, and allowed both inside linebackers to average over 100 tackles the previous three seasons. Zach Cunningham has 339 tackles, and Benardrick McKinney has 301 tackles since Reader entrenched himself in the Texans’ defensive line.

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The Texans are a better team with Reader in the defense and they won’t improve with him leaving in free agency. Although the Texans have taken a precautionary measure by re-signing Reader’s backup in Brandon Dunn, Reader should be the priority as the Texans work on retaining their players before the start of free agency.