Houston Texans fans anxiously awaited news of trade returns on their first trade deadline that mattered in years and were left with no news. What can we make of that?
The Houston Texans were coming to the 2023 NFL trade deadline for the first time in years as potential buyers instead of the sellers they have been. Boosted by a draft class that may end up being the best in franchise history, headlined by star defensive and Will Anderson Jr and Rookie of the Year front-runner CJ Stroud leading the offense, things were looking up. So up that the Houston Texans were rumored by many to be in pursuit of different headline darlings, Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the Washington Commanders pass rushing duo of Chase Young and Montez Sweat.
Young was sent to the 49ers in a deal that netted the franchise a third-round pick, something most Texans fans would have happily given up. Sweat was sent to the Chicago Bears for a second-round selection; that price may have been too high for Texans fans, but still an impact player who would have helped the franchise. Two pass rushers that we have discussed potential trades for going for draft capital halls that were relatively modest to the projections pose the question: should the Houston Texans have gone for these players? Was it the right time to make a deal?
Ultimately, the answer is simple: no. While being watchable and enjoyable throughout this season, the Houston Texans have a ways to go to become a playoff-caliber team. Yes, the additions of this rookie class and some savvy free agent deals have made this team a player in the AFC South; however, they are not in a position to give up draft capital in deals for one-year players.
What this means for the Texans' franchise is more important than any player they could have treated for earlier this week: the Houston Texans have a plan and a vision agreed upon by head coach DeMeco Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio. While many speculated during the draft that the two didn't align, the picture is becoming more apparent.
Caerio believes in Ryans. Ryans believes in Caserio. How do we know this? Well, Caserio chose not to trade away any draft capital for aging or high-end defensive ends to boost a top-five defense in the league in putting pressure on the quarterback but bottom 10 in getting to the quarterback. The Texans are putting faith in fourth-year defensive end Jon Greenard and leaning on rookies Anderson Jr and Dylan Horton to continue to grow. And you know what? Ryans has earned that. He has already hit the max win total the Houston Texans have had over the last two seasons and has turned around a bottom-two defense into a top-15 defense without adding any significant pieces sans Anderson.
On the flip side, Ryans was willing to avoid bringing in talent to help out his defensive line and instead trusted that that draft capital, whether it be a first, second, or third-round selection in next year's NFL draft, could bring back another young controllable talent that can be more impactful than any of the above players or Brian burns of the Carolina Panthers. And you know what? Caserio has earned that.
In this year's draft, Caserio knocked it out of the park. This past April, Caserio delivered a franchise quarterback, pass rushers, two viable options at center, a starting linebacker in the fifth round, and a starting wide receiver who also excels as a punt returner.
It's easy to get caught up in landing the proverbial 'big fish' That makes headlines at trade deadlines. The Houston Texans weren't caught up in all of that. Instead, they sent an even bigger statement:
- We believe in one another.
- We believe in the players in the building.
- We believe we have the talent needed to make it happen.
Houston Texans fans should be excited about what is happening on Kirby Drive for the first time in a long time.