Houston Texans Offseason Manifesto: Constructing an offensive juggernaut

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Zach Fulton, Houston Texans
Houston Texans guard Zach Fulton (73) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Houston Texans: Overview of the offensive guards

Houston’s offensive line could really use a makeover at the guard position. The Houston Texans were hamstrung by some of the worst guard play in the league last year, and the entire side of the ball suffered because of it. The Texans ran for a meager 91.6 yards per contest in 2020, the second-worst mark of any club in the NFL. I would argue these struggles can most prominently be attributed to the poor play of the interior offensive line.

Zach Fulton was a stalwart at the guard position in 2020, starting all 16 games. While Fulton graded out as the best guard Houston had in 2020, that was not necessarily a high bar to cross. Pro Football Focus ranked Fulton as the 43rd best guard during the 2020 season out of 83.

Despite grading as Houston’s best player at the position, Fulton is a prime candidate to be cut this offseason. Cutting Fulton would save the Houston Texans about $3 million dollars towards the cap during 2021, so this seems like an easy decision.

Houston’s other guard snaps in 2020 were mainly shared by Max Scharping (eight starts) and Senio Kelemete (five starts). Both of these players struggled last year, Scharping was PFF’s 70th ranked guard and Kelemete came in at 66th.

Scharping was a second round choice in 2019. Despite his poor play thus far, it would be very surprising if Houston moved on from him this offseason. It would be fair to potentially label 2021 a “make-or-break” year for Scharping, though.

Kelemete will be 31 years old by the start of the 2021 season and still has a year left on his deal. Cutting Kelemete would offer the Houston Texans close to $2 million in savings towards the cap, so it certainly is possible that he’s played his last game in Houston.

Assuming at least one of Fulton and Kelemete doesn’t return next season, the Texans will need to add guards this offseason. They most likely won’t have the money to add a premier player at the position, but this is where they could bring in cheap veterans or young, unproven players on short, team-friendly deals.

Two years ago the Cleveland Browns surrendered two low draft choices for Wyatt Teller, who is now arguably the best guard in the league. While that is of course the exception and not the rule, this is the mindset the Houston Texans should embrace this offseason. Find young, intriguing players that can be had for cheap and bring them into the fold.