The loss of Andre Hal to lymphoma will cause the Texans to shuffle things in the secondary, but it shouldn’t require a dip into free agency.
The news that Andre Hal has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has dealt an emotional blow to the entire Houston Texans organization. In terms of on the field, replacing him isn’t nearly as complicated due to a deep roster. The team has more than enough internal talent in the secondary to cover for Hal’s absence without making a move in free agency.
In situations like these, the simplest option is generally the best move. That certainly applies here. The Texans are blessed with an abundance of talented cornerbacks. One of them, in particular, also has the ability to play safety at a high level. Bill O’Brien should simply move Kareem Jackson into Hal’s spot in the starting lineup for the time being.
That would cause an opening at cornerback, but 2015 first round pick Kevin Johnson is more than capable of filling that void. He’s struggled a bit with injuries during his career, but he’s healthy at the moment. The team would be smart to give him a chance to reclaim his starting position on a permanent basis.
There’s also a significant chance that 2018 third-round pick Justin Reid is going to be ready to start Week One. He doesn’t have Hal’s experience but he has the talent to be an NFL starter at the position. The team didn’t draft him just to keep him on the bench all season long. At the minimum, they should anticipate he’ll be ready to play meaningful snaps by the midway point of the 2018 season.
Losing a starter so early in the preseason is always going to cause a team to contemplate using free agency to replace them. Despite the quality options available at safety on the open market, the Texans should refrain from making a new signing. Instead, they should simply take advantage of their abundance of talent in the secondary. This is an injury they can absorb internally without major drop-off.