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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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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