Houston Texans: Exploring Eric Reid’s potential defensive role

Taking a deep dive at what a fit would look like with Eric Reid on the Houston Texans roster.

The Houston Texans would be the next destination of Eric Reid’s career if it were up to his younger brother Justin Reid. Texans starting safety has made his case for head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien to reconnect both brothers under one football team. The former 2013 Pro Bowl safety was recently waived by the Carolina Panthers’ new coaching staff, who also removed several other key veterans on the roster that included quarterback Cam Newton.

Reid, 28, is still a young player in the prime of his career that can contribute to a depleted defensive team like the Houston Texans that finished at the bottom of the league in several defensive statistics. Selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft from LSU by the San Francisco 49ers, Reid earned Pro Bowl accolades in his rookie year. Entering the league as a free safety, Reid saw playing time in a hybrid role as a defensive back and linebacker to conclude his five-year tenure in San Francisco.

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Along with his strong stances off the field that align with other NFL players across the league, Reid was at crossroads with NFL teams as they evaluated him more as a box safety or an undersized linebacker. It didn’t help his case that at the time he was a free agent, safeties didn’t have the strong market they once had as Tyrann Mathieu, Tre Boston, Kenny Vaccarro and other talented safeties struggled in securing multi-year deals once they hit free agency in 2018.

However, Reid’s talent and overall intelligence as a football player made it difficult for him to stay unemployed for long. He signed a one year deal to play with the Panthers for the remaining 13 games of the 2018 season and signed a three-year extension worth up to $22 million before his first contract expired. Although he was released after the first year of his extension with the Panthers, there are still teams out there like the Texans that make sense for Reid.

Outside of the obvious brother connection that puts Houston atop of Reid’s list, Texans have a clear need for depth in the secondary. Reid’s tackling ability is a plus at his position. He finished the 2019 season with 130 tackles, seven tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. On paper, Reid is an ideal box safety or hybrid linebacker in defensive packages when the defense wants to employ a mobile defender over a slower linebacker in passing downs.

However, Reid has taken a few steps back as a defender in coverage. Reid was often targeted in passing situations and exploited as he gave up 54 completions out of the 70 passes thrown in his vicinity. He allowed a 77.1 percent completion rate, a 149.9 quarterback rating, and 750 receiving yards as a defender in coverage in 2019.

Although it’s fair to point out that Reid played banged up in a depleted Panthers secondary that had little depth at safety in 2019. Reid played in 99 percent of the snaps on defense despite dealing with ankle, knee, shoulder injuries throughout the season.

There exists the possibility that Reid could improve in that area of his game with less wear and tear as a rotational defender in Houston’s secondary. Texans could use another safety on the roster with Mike Adams announcing his retirement, and Jahleel Addae still a free agent.

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A smart, savvy safety like Reid could bring stability to the position that the Texans need heading into the 2020 season.