2. Player the Houston Texans wish had stayed in 2023: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DL
The Texans have been cleaning house this offseason. However, not all the players they've released (or traded) with were necessarily bad and could have stayed and contributed in 2023. Defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was one such player.
A fifth-round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, Okoronkwo didn't do much of note in his first three NFL campaigns, registering 4.5 sacks and 34 total tackles in 33 games. But it all changed when he joined the Texans last year, as he went on to have somewhat of a breakout season.
Okoronkwo appeared in 518 defensive snaps and made the most of it, tallying five sacks, one forced fumble, and 44 total tackles, all career bests. The Cleveland Browns took notice of the kind of impact he could have in the trenches and gave him a three-year deal worth $19 million in free agency.
Despite the fact that Okoronkwo isn't a Pro Bowl talent, he wasn't the reason the Texans struggled to defend the run last season. In fact, he was one of their best players, which is why it was a bit surprising to see the front office opt not to make an aggressive effort to keep him around.
The silver lining is that Jonathan Green and Jerry Hughes are still on the roster. Moreover, the Texans will be in a position to bolster their defensive front in the 2023 draft, so it looks like they'll be fine without Okoronkwo even though it made sense to retain him.