Houston Texans: Joe Thomas, new linebacker signings make sense

Joe Thomas, Houston Texans

linebacker Joe Thomas (48) is now with the Houston Texans Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans have made it clear they were not impressed with the play of their linebackers last season, because on Monday general manager Nick Caserio and the Texans decision makers agreed to deals with thee linebackers.

Also don’t forget about the Houston Texans also added Christian Kirksey last week in a deal as well. Plus the Texans have traded linebacker Benardrick McKinney to the Miami Dolphins as he wasn’t a fit in the defense of new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith with the Texans going from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme.

Looking at the agreements for the three linebackers on Monday, the players the Houston Texans are adding to the depth chart via free agency are Joe Thomas, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Kevin Pierre-Louis.

These signing aren’t going to make the Houston Texans an instant Super Bowl contender, but they will make the Houston defense respectable, and the depth this team is building is better than what it was a week ago, so that a much needed positive this offseason.

First when looking at the signing of Joe Thomas, a former linebacker of the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers will be entering his eighth season in the NFL, and after spending his first four years in the league with the Packers, Thomas spent the past three with the Cowboys.

In 2020, Thomas played in 15 games and made four starts where he had two passes defensed, plus the inside linebacker collected 30 solo tackles, three tackles for loss and added two QB hits along the way.

For his seven previous seasons in the league, Thomas has 1.5 sacks, but what stands out is his 12 tackles for loss, and the fact he’s a dependable player who has played in 82 career games with 14 starts. Also don’t forget the Texans are repairing and improving their special teams, and Thomas should contribute on that unit as well.

Houston Texans bringing in veteran linebackers is smart decision

Other linebackers added with an agreement on Monday were Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Grugier-Hill is a linebacker who joined the league in 2016 as a sixth round pick via the New England Patriots. Grugier-Hill never played for the Patriots, rather he spent his first four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and this past season with the Dolphins.

Grugier-Hill played in 15 games in ’20, and even made one start. In his time on the field last season, Grugier-Hill totaled one fumble recovery, one sack, 21 solo tackles, one tackle for loss, and two QB hits. With his pass rush in ’20, Grugier-Hill had 22 blitzes where he had one QB knockdown and two pressures.

He also played a total of 207 snaps on defense in ’20, and 237 snaps on special teams, so don’t be surprised to see Grugier-Hill on special teams this upcoming season.

Kevin Pierre-Louis has been in the NFL since the 2014 season, being a former fourth round selection. Last season Pierre-Louis played for the Washington Football Team where in 13 games (11 starts) finished with 36 solo tackles, three TFL, two QB hits, one sack, one forced fumble, and two passes defensed.

This is the sixth team Pierre-Louis  will play for in what will be his eighth season in the league.  Playing outside linebacker in ’20, Pierre-Louis allowed five touchdowns in his pass coverage, but he also blitzed 32 times where he collected two QB hurries, one QB knockdowns one sack, and four pressures.

Pierre-Louis didn’t contribute much to the special teams with Washington, but played in 506 defensive snaps in ’20, which was 48 percent of the total snaps played by the Washington Football Team.

It is going to be fun to see some new faces compete with the linebackers who are already on the roster of the Houston Texans this offseason. It was no secret the defense needed some changes made, and linebacker the depth seems to be building, but the issue is there isn’t a true star in the unit.

It is unknown if any of these signing will make for a big-time star with the Texans, but there is no doubt these players will grind and battle for the defense. The depth for this roster is getting to where it needs to be for ’21, which helps for the future of the Texans to see where this franchise stands.