Houston Texans: Andre Roberts is a giant signing for special teams

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Roberts (18) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Roberts (18) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
Andre Roberts, Houston Texans
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Roberts (18) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

One has to be very happy with the Houston Texans on Monday, as they’ve started off the week with a “giant” signing so to speak with the addition of free agent Andre Roberts in a move that will really improve the special teams.

Roberts most recently played for the Buffalo Bills, where last season he was a member of their AFC East championship team. Now when 2021 starts, he’ll be a member of the Houston Texans, as general manager Nick Caserio is working to get the Texans franchise past being one of the worst teams in the NFL like they were a season ago.

Though this signing of Andre Roberts — for two years and $5.95 million — isn’t franchise making, it is a smart move that will make the special teams better than it has been in quite some time, and it will be nice for the Texans to have a kickoff and punt return specialist on the roster who can contribute.

Roberts first played for the Arizona Cardinals from 2010-13 and since then has played for the Washington Football Team (2014-15), Detroit Lions (2016), Atlanta Falcons (2017), New York Jets (2018) and the Bills (2019-20), so the transition to the Texans shouldn’t be an issue either as Roberts has played for now seven NFL franchises in what will be his 12th season.

Houston Texans: Andre Roberts is a three-time Pro Bowl selection

The past three seasons have been special for Roberts as those have all been Pro Bowl seasons, and in 2018 he was selected as a first-team All-Pro player. In 2020 with the Bills, Roberts had 29 punt returns for 286 yards, averaging 9.9 yards per return. Also with Buffalo in ’20, Roberts had 32 kickoff returns, totaling 961 yards with a league-best 30 yards per return, including a best return of 60 yards.

If the Texans can get that type of field position for their offense in their return game, this signing all but will pay for itself, because the special teams return game last season wasn’t a highlight for this franchise.

As a team last season, the Houston Texans averaged 20.1 yards per return on kickoffs last season (36 returns), ranking them 27th overall in the league in ’20. Leading the Texans in punt returns last season was DeAndre Carter. In nine games (11 returns), Carter averaged 8.7 yards per return for 96 yards. In the kickoff game, Carter had 12 returns for 250 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per return.

So a 10-yard difference in returns between Roberts and Carter will be a giant difference in field position for the Texans, especially for a team that struggled to gain first downs early in games, as an extra 10 yards can change how a game is called by the offense.

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All in all, this signing works well for the Houston Texans because it gives a needed boost to their special teams, and they also bring in a veteran who is coming from a franchise the past two seasons that learned how to win, something this current group of Houston Texans will have to learn how to do in 2021.