Houston Texans: Releasing Roderick Johnson was a mistake

Houston Texans offensive tackle Roderick Johnson Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans offensive tackle Roderick Johnson Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
Roderick Johnson, Houston Texans
Houston Texans offensive tackle Roderick Johnson Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Texans have some depth on the offensive line, and in recent memory they’ve drafted linemen who are either starters or second on the depth chart. Like other teams, they’ve brought in players for depth purposes throughout recent seasons.

One of those players was Roderick Johnson, and after being activated on Wednesday (was on the COVID-19 list), the Texans made the mistake of releasing the swing tackle in favor of keeping other, younger players on the roster as they had to get down to the NFL roster limit before the second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday night.

Johnson, who was originally a fifth-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2017, played 285 snaps for the Houston Texans in 2020, allowing one sack and was penalized three times. Pro Football Focus graded the tackle at 64.5 overall for his play in ’20 as Johnson is known more for his run blocking abilities rather than his pass blocking skills when the two are being compared.

The tackle Johnson was the perfect player to have as a reserve tackle for the offensive line as Tytus Howard and Laremy Tunsil both have missed games as members of the Houston Texans. Johnson made three starts in ’19, and last season he also made three starts. In his three seasons with Houston (2018-20), Johnson was active for 29 games, including 16 games in ’19 and 12 in ’20.

Johnson played in 365 snaps on offense in ’19, and last season played in 245 offensive snaps, as his career total with the Texans added up to 610 plays on offense. On special teams, Johnson played a total of 94 plays, including 73 special teams plays in ’19, so he also brought value to that part of the game as well.

Houston Texans: Who is left at tackle on the depth chart?

With the release of Johnson, that means the Texans still have the following players at tackle listed on the depth chart: Tunsil, Howard, Charlie Heck, Geron Christian, Marcus Cannon and Jordan Steckler.

It seems the Texans are are banking on Cannon possibly being the swing tackle this season, or there could be other position changes within the offensive line depending on what the Houston Texans coaching staff sees fit.

The addition of Cannon was a great move made by the Texans this offseason, but having both Cannon and Johnson on the roster would have brought an even more secure feeling going into the ’21 regular season when the Texans face the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.

Heck is also a possible big part of the future of the Texans as he was a third-round pick in 2020 for the Texans, and though he played very little for the team as a rookie, there seems to be some expectations for his potential moving forward, which is understandable for a team that is rebuilding.

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Although it is exciting to see the Houston Texans are trying different things to try to improve their offensive line, the release of Johnson didn’t need to happen. Johnson will land with another team and be productive for them, and hopefully this decision made by the Texans doesn’t haunt them down the line.