Do the Houston Texans have a plan in place to replace Howard if he leaves?
Successful franchises view roster building in a three-to-five-year window. They observe potential free agents, draftable college players, and their roster when viewing long-term goals at certain positions. The Texans just signed Greg Little this off-season to a one-year deal as a backup tackle and selected former LSU tackle, Austin Deculus in the sixth round last year. Those two minor investments are the only current players on the roster who would be immediately in line to replace Howard if he were to move on in the offseason.
Neither of those options is wildly appealing, as neither has had professional success. Both were very good tackles in top-tier SEC schools, but neither has shown enough to be trusted with such an important spot on a roster such as the Texans.
The best projected free agents to fill Howard’s spot on the roster would be New Orleans Saints Andrus Peat and currently disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals’ tackle Jonah Williams. Peat played most of his career at left guard but was a tackle in college. Williams wants to be traded out of Cincinnati to play left tackle, a position he would have no chance to play in Houston with Laremy Tunsil in town.
What about the draft?
Next year’s draft class is loaded with high-end offensive tackles in Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu, and Alabama’s JC Latham. They are also the only offensive tackles in the top 50 rankings, indicating a rather top-heavy, shallow class at the position.
At the same time, the Texans will only have one draft pick in the first round after trading their own first next year in the Will Anderson trade. Texans fans hope the Cleveland Browns selection they own falls in the top-15 of the first round. That range gives them a shot at filling Howard’s spot with an elite offensive tackle, but they may have larger, glaring needs at defensive tackle and wider receiver - both positions offer high-end talent in next year's draft within that range.
With that in mind, it would not make sense for the Texans to rely on next year’s NFL draft to fill the potential void at right tackle. Similarly, it does not appear to be a smart decision to rely on the current offensive tackles on the roster. With those assumptions in mind, if I were the Houston Texans, I would try to extend Tytus Howard, barring no major setbacks, to a short-term, three or four-year extension that pays him in the $13-16 million range. That salary is within the range given to the right tackles in the league who are ranked sixth through tenth, per PFF.