What a roller coaster season it was for the Houston Texans. Fans should be excited for next season, especially if they land any of these top free agent targets.
Did any team in the NFL have a more up-and-down season than the Houston Texans?
After making a major move in the 2017 draft to trade up for quarterback Deshaun Watson, they still started Tom Savage at the beginning of the season. That proved to be an egregious mistake. Once Watson was thrown into the lineup, the offense completely changed. He was well on his way to the offensive rookie of the year when he tore his ACL in practice and missed the remainder of the season.
Watson started six games, appeared in seven and threw 19 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. His insertion into the lineup was a turning point for Houston, as was his subsequent ACL injury.
Injuries ultimately played a massive role in the Texans season. They had 23 players on injured reserve by the end of 2017. It was not just Watson either. Former Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt was lost for the season. Fellow defensive star Whitney Mercilus was also lost after six games, the same week as Watt. Starting right tackle Derek Newton missed the entire season as well.
This team will be a candidate to have a major bounce-back season. They will need it too. The AFC south is shaping up to be one of the NFL’s strongest divisions. It features two playoffs teams in the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Not to mention the return of Andrew Luck for the Indianapolis Colts.
Good news for the Texans is not only the return of all their injured players but the cap space available entering the offseason. They are estimated to have the sixth most cap space in the league with just over $56 million. Some of that will likely go to resign starters in Xavier Su’a-Filo and Johnathan Joseph. They should still have more than enough to make big plays for some of the NFL’s top free agents.
5. Nate Solder, T
Former team: New England Patriots
The offensive line must be addressed in Houston. That starts with solidifying the tackle position. Nate Solder of the New England Patriots is the top free agent tackle available.
After trading away stalwart tackle Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks, the Texans were left without an above average starter on that line. Brown was not happy in Houston and the team decided to ship him off for a third round pick this year and second round pick next year. Brown was a former All-Pro and Pro Bowl tackle but getting serious draft capital in return for a 32-year-old tackle who has missed games each of the past three seasons should be seen as a success.
Solder would immediately be the best lineman on this Texans team. Houston would be wise to pony up big money to keep their franchise quarterback as safe as possible.
The Patriots drafted Solder out of Colorado in the first round in 2011. He’s been a consistent piece on their line ever since. He would be a game changer for this Texans team. Given the lack of elite tackle options in this draft, and Houston’s lack of a first round pick, free agency should address the position.
Solder is already 29 years old, but a four year deal should carry him through his prime. It will be interesting to see what New England does but They will struggle to retain him unless they franchise tag him. If they move on, Houston should jump all over him.