Breaking down the Texans' 53-man roster after final cuts

DeAndre Hopkins heads up the receiving corps. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans got their roster down to 53 players. Here is a look at the position groups with analysis of each (updates with waiver claims and additional cuts):

Quarterbacks (3)

Deshaun Watson

Brandon Weeden

Joe Webb

Analysis: Joe Webb did not make the initial cut but was reportedly brought back, presumably to help on special teams.  Weeden will most likely be the primary backup. Obviously, Watson's health is the key here. If he misses any extended time, the Texans are in trouble, but that was going to be the case no matter who was going to be the backup QB.

Running backs (4)

Lamar Miller

Alfred Blue

Tyler Ervin

Greg Howell

Analysis: D'Onta Foreman starts the season on the PUP list, which means the Texans are pretty thin behind Miller.  They finally punted on the fullback position, dumping Jay Prosch. They picked up Howell on waivers from Miami.

Wide receivers (6)

DeAndre Hopkins

Will Fuller

Bruce Ellington

Sammie Coates

Keke Coutee

Vyncint Smith

Analysis: Smith over Braxton Miller might be the only surprise here, but Smith certainly has higher upside. Coutee has not played in the preseason but the staff seems high on him. Should be a pretty solid group.

Tight ends (3)

Ryan Griffin

Jordan Thomas

Jordan Akins

Analysis: The Texans pretty much kept the three players everyone projected, with Griffin and two rookies. There is upside, but not much in the way of experience. Not a strong group on paper.

Offensive linemen (8)

Julién Davenport (T)

Seantrell Henderson (T)

Martinas Rankin (T)

Kendall Lamm (T)

Senio Kelemete (G)

Zach Fulton (G)

Greg Mancz (C)

Nick Martin (C)

Analysis: The weakest position group on the roster could have used some help on the waiver wire. Not much depth or talent here. Rankin has upside, and perhaps Davenport takes a big step in Year 2. But otherwise, if these guys can just be average, it would be a positive.

Defensive line (7)

J.J. Watt

D.J. Reader

Christian Covington

Brandon Dunn

Angelo Blackson

Carlos Watkins

Joel Heath

Analysis: The strongest group on the team and can also include Jadeveon Clowney, who will switch back and forth between line and linebacker. There is depth, talent, and several players who could produce if forced into service. 

Linebackers (9)

Benardrick McKinney (ILB)

Zach Cunningham (ILB)

Dylan Cole (ILB)

Brian Peters (ILB)

Jadeveon Clowney (OLB)

Whitney Mercilus (OLB)

Brennan Scarlett (OLB)

Duke Ejiofor (OLB)

Peter Kalambayi (OLB)

Analysis: Another deep, talented group, especially inside. There should be help for special teams as well. The outside players lack experience after Clowney/Mercilus/Scarlett, so that could become a concern if there are injuries, but Ejiofor and Kalambayi have upside.

Cornerbacks (6)

Johnathan Joseph

Aaron Colvin

Kayvon Webster

Kevin Johnson

Johnson Bademosi

A.J. Moore 

Analysis: The Texans added A.J. Moore off waivers on Sunday to add some depth. They lack a true No. 1 corner - Joseph is well past his prime - and depth here. This is an area of serious concern.

Safety (4)

Kareem Jackson

Tyrann Mathieu

Justin Reid

Natrell Jamerson

Analysis: Jackson's move from corner and the additions of Mathieu and Reid makes this potentially the best and most versatile safety group the Texans have ever had. Jamerson was picked up on waivers and should help on special teams. 

Specialists (3) 

Ka’imi Fairbairn (K)

Trevor Daniel (P)

Jon Weeks (LS)

Analysis: Daniel beating out Shane Lechler at punter got a lot of attention, but hey, a punter is a punter. Fairbairn missed the preseason but should be ready to go.

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Willson Contreras will not be replacing catcher Martin Maldonado. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

According to multiple reports, free agent catcher Willson Contreras is signing a 5-year, $87.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Contreras was the Astros top target in free agency and will have to pursue other possibilities with Contreras heading to St. Louis.

The Astros reportedly have interest in bringing Christian Vazquez back in what could be a timeshare with Martin Maldonado. Houston could be in the market to trade for A's catcher Sean Murphy, according to reports. Murphy is under team control until 2025, so he won't come cheap if the A's are willing to trade him in the division.

Houston could also look to the farm system for help. Former 1st round pick Korey Lee or Yainer Díaz could both be options this season as the team transitions away from Maldonado, who is in the final year of his contract.

Another Astro moves on

The Oakland A's reportedly signed former Astros DH and utility man Aledmys Diaz to a 2-year, $14 million contract on Wednesday.

Diaz hit .255/.313/.424 with 32 home runs in his four years with the club. Diaz had some big moments with the team, but dealt with his fair share of injuries. It seemed like Diaz's time with the team was coming to an end when he went 1-23 in the 2022 postseason.

Looking ahead

The Astros are rumored to have interest in several free agent outfielders. Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto have all been mentioned as players on the club's radar.

Michael Brantley could also be an option to bring back, but the team won't have confirmation on the health of his shoulder for quite some time.

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