4 linebackers that the Texans need to look into this offseason

Who could potentially replace 2023 standout Blake Cashman and Denzel Perryman in 2024?
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The Houston Texans have been working hard behind the scenes to retain key players from the 2023 season. Houston has already resigned tight end Dalton Schultz and kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn to 3-year contracts. However, it is yet to be seen if the Texans can retain other players like cornerback Steven Nelson, defensive end Jonathan Greenard, or running back Devin Singletary. 

Another player who was a key piece of the 2023 season was Blake Cashman. The former New York Jet had the best season of his career during his second season in Houston and was by the Texans' best linebacker throughout the year. If Houston cannot retain Cashman, here are some viable free agents to help fill the void. 

Patrick Queen

Many media outlets have Patrick Queen as the best available inside linebacker in the upcoming free-agent cycle. According to Doric Sam of Bleacher Report, the Texans and Queen share some mutual interest ahead of free agency. Queen also played with Derek Stingley Jr. in college as both were part of the historic 2019 National Championship team at LSU.

DeMeco Ryans is known for relying on the front-4 to generate pressure as opposed to bringing blitzes from the linebackers and secondary. This means that linebackers in Ryans’s scheme are required to play pass coverage, and more specifically, zone coverage as opposed to other schemes around the league. Queen’s style of play and past usage suggest that he would be a good fit with the Texans. According to PFF’s premium stats outlet, 52.2% of Queen’s snaps during the 2023 season were in zone coverage. After racking up 133 tackles and nine tackles for loss during the 2023 season, Queen was selected to the Pro Bowl and was a 2nd-team All-Pro. 

As the consensus top free-agent linebacker, Queen will command a hefty price in free agency. The top free agent linebacker last offseason was Tremaine Edmunds and he signed a contract worth approximately $18 million annually with the Chicago Bears. Queen is better than Edmunds so I would expect him to bring in around the same amount, if not more annually.

Ultimately, Houston has to decide which positions they want to devote the most capital to this offseason. While Queen would be an expensive addition, the 2024 NFL Draft class lacks high-end linebacker prospects. Signing Queen to a big deal and devoting draft capital to other positions might not be the worst idea.