The Houston Texans news needs to be the free agent signing of defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
One glaring need that stands out for the Houston Texans in mid-June of the 2020 offseason is the lack of a veteran defensive tackle that can be a difference maker the first time he straps on a Texans helmet.
The Texans news this offseason has been they lost such a player when the free agent deal between them and Timmy Jernigan fell through, and when D.J. Reader left the Texans to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals for a record contract signed by a nose tackle.
Houston drafted rookie Ross Blacklock of TCU in the second round which was an excellent choice, but the current depth chart at the nose tackle position leaves a void for the Texans where they need a solid veteran with a proven track record of being able to play at a high level at the position.
That brings us to Damon Harrison, a free agent who formally played for the New York Jets, New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. Also know by many a “Snacks” Harrison, the 6’3, 353-pound nose tackle is a perfect fit for this defense as he is a big man who can take up much space on the interior defensive line, while freeing up space for his fellow defensive linemen.
Houston Texans News: Damon Harrison stats and comments
Harrison gained an average of around two solo tackles per game last season, plus a couple times a year he’ll even get a sack. Last season with the Lions, Harrison totaled 35 solo tackles, 14 assisted tackles, two sacks, and even had a Pro Football Focus grade of 63.2.
Even two seasons ago Harrison’s numbers were even better as he collected 58 solo tackles,18 assisted tackles, four sacks and totaled two forced fumbles. That season his PFF grade was 92.0, so Harrison has proven he can be a dominant force on the d-line.
Josh Alper of Yahoo! Sports quoted Harrison from a recent radio interview where Harrison spoke about his free agency situation:
"“I’ve turned down a few offers,” Harrison said. “I’m not in a rush to make a decision because I control where I go and want to be as informed as possible.”"
It makes a person wonder if the Texans have been involved in making one of those offers, because if they haven’t they should have by now. The Texans need a nose tackle with the abilities and potential Harrison can bring if they want their defense to be the best it can be.
As exciting it is having Blacklock on the roster following the draft earlier this year, he’s got a lot of learning ahead at the professional level, and a player like Harrison can fill that void right now. Harrison can do so while also being one of the better nose tackles in the league as well.
Harrison — who is 31 years old — in eight seasons has played in 117 games where he’s totaled 200 solo tackles, 11 sacks, 10 passes defensed, one interception, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Harrison in his career was named to the 2017 NFL Top 100 (96th), was an AP first-team All-Pro selection in 2016, and has been named to the PFF and Pro Football Writers All-Pro teams throughout his career.
Houston Texans News: Final thoughts on Damon Harrison
Barring injury, this would be the perfect defensive tackle signing for the Houston Texans. If it were a one-year deal, or a multi-year deal adding Harrison works because of the experience he’s gained, plus he fills that huge void left by Reader which isn’t an easy task to accomplish.
It is no secret the Texans should add a veteran at tackle on the defensive line. If Harrison can be that guy he’s going to make J.J. Watt better, he’d make things easier for Whitney Mercilus at linebacker, and maybe his presence on the defense would even help the secondary of the Texans improve compared to last season. The Texans have a big decision to make this offseason in terms of who they are going to add at tackle on the defensive line.
If Harrison is that player, that would be the best decision made by the Texans. A tackle duo of Harrison and Blacklock would make games tough for the opponents of the Houston Texans in 2020, and considering the toughness of the schedule, that will be needed this season.