Houston Texans: Is offensive line the biggest need this offseason?

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Should the Houston Texans put a lot of focus on the o-line this offseason?

When the Houston Texans front office takes a detailed look at their roster this offseason one must wonder what the thought process of general manager Nick Caserio when it comes to the offensive line for the 2022 season.

When looking at who stands out as members of the Houston Texans offensive line from the ’21 season some of the players are Laremy Tunsil (left tackle), Tytus Howard (tackle/guard), Marcus Cannon (tackle), Lane Taylor (guard), Justin McCray (guard), Justin Britt (center), Charlie Heck (tackle/guard), and Max Scharping (guard) to name a few of the players responsible playing in the trenches.

Looking at the contracts for the ’22 season, one that stands out is Tunsil and his ’22 upcoming contract numbers compared to this past season’s numbers. In ’21 Tunsil had a base salary of $990,000, but in ’22 that number jumps all the way up to $17.85 million with a salary cap hit of $26.153 million. There is an opt out on the contract after the ’22 season, but that is a huge number for a team that’s rebuilding.

Do the Texans or will the Texans pay that much money to Tunsil in ’22, or would Caserio even think of trading one of the best to play in the NFL at the position for more draft capital, plus make more cap room as well? That’s why one must think about what the thought process of Caserio is because it is a realistic option for the GM of the Texans as he’s continuing to rebuild this team into a contender.

If the Texans want to protect Davis Mills or whoever the starting quarterback in ’22 spending that type of money on a left tackle is a must. Remember Tunsil, who is 28 years old, has ’22 and ’23 left on his contract, his two biggest paying years in his three-year deal with the franchise.

With a significant portion of the payroll going to the anchor of the offensive line, exactly what were his numbers this past season? Tunsil played in only five games in ’21, which was the first time in his six-year career he didn’t play in at least 14 games in a season. In the five games played he didn’t allow a sack and had one penalty in ’21, so

Houston Texans: What about the rest of the offensive line?

The Texans will still have a very good right tackle, that being Howard, and it is unknown if Britt is returning to the team as he’s a free agent, so the guard and center positions will be a big focus for the offensive line in the ’22 offseason. Britt was on a one-year contract for $5 million, but has earned a better contract for ’22, and other teams will be sending offers his was too.

Though the focus of the offensive line is to keep Mills upright at quarterback, the play of the interior line, and even the tackles must have a better focus on the rushing game. It was the worst in the NFL at 1,422 yards on 420 carries. Houston averaged 3.4 yards per carry and had six carries of 20-plus yards.

When it comes to free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft this offseason guard and even center is where to watch. The Texans are good at tackle with Tunsil, Howard and Cannon, but at guard the has to be improvement with either the players there with their run blocking or competition needs to be brought in for starting roles.

One guard in the draft the Texans could show some interest in is Kenyon Green of Texas A&M, who is a two-time All-American selection, as he declared for the draft early and will miss his senior season.

He would be a huge help in the running game of the Texans, plus Houston needs to be serious about running back too, finding players with real potential or a proven running back who isn’t an aging veteran.

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One way or another Caserio has to address the offensive line this offseason. If the Houston Texans want to be a successful team again and be better than any team they’ve had in the past, the Texans have to have a much-improved running game in ’22 and that starts with the offensive line. That means o-line has to be a big focus in ’22 and Caserio most likely already knows that.