Eric Reid a potential target

Did Tashaun Gipson's release open the door to an Eric Reid signing?

The Houston Texans are still in the premature stages of revamping their roster ahead of the 2020 season, but Bill O'Brien saw fit to make another significant move. On Monday, the Texans announced the release of veteran safety Tashaun Gipson after one season in Houston.

Highlighted by Justin Reid, the third-year safety out of Stanford University in 2018, the Texans have a solid group at the position with the offseason acquisition of Eric Murray, Michael Thomas and Jaylen Watkins. Unfortunately, neither of the three may be capable to replace what Gipson brought to the field each week last season. Although it is not an essential need, it may be in Houston's best interest to add a new safety prior to the start of training camp, but the market is extremely thin with the draft now an event of the past.

With little options available, the decision to part ways with Gipson will give the Texans an opportunity to sign free agent safety, Eric Reid as a potential replacement.

While his outspoken antics may have played a factor in his surprise lack of interest around the league, that has not stopped O'Brien from expressing some thoughts into signing the one-time Pro-Bowler. Earlier this month, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that Reid's brother, Justin, vouched for the idea to sign the veteran free agent, and O'Brien has considered the move.

After two solid seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Reid continues to find himself unemployed since his release in March. As one of the most reliable safeties in the league, he posted a career-best 130 tackles (97 solo hits, 33 assists), six pass deflections, five quarterback hits, and 4.0 sacks across 16 games in 2019. His best outing of the season came during a 34-31 loss against the New Orleans Saints — where Reid recorded a team-high 15 tackles on the day.

If Reid had played on a playoff-caliber team last season instead of the 5-11 Panthers, his on-field production would have been valued similarly to his days with the 49ers. Not only would Houston have the opportunity to add a reliable safety, but one who would be the perfect — and even better — addition to replace what Gipson brought to the Texans' gridiron.

In his lone year in Houston, Gipson recorded 51 tackles (37 solo hits, 14 assists) and three interceptions during the 2019 season. Gipson originally signed a three-year deal with the Texans following his departure from the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason.

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Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images.

J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans all-time leader in sacks (96.0), is entering his ninth season with the franchise ahead of what will certainly be an anomaly year for the NFL. Due to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, there is serious doubt that the NFL will be able to play a full 16-game schedule, while others express their concern with the league's inability to play any form of football come the fall of 2020.

There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the league this coming season, which is becoming a theme for Watt's future in Houston.

The 31-year-old defensive end has two years remaining on his six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed in September of 2014. But as he prepares to embark on another year with the Texans through Zoom meetings with his teammates, a new contract is not on Watt's priority list.

"No, I don't think that's necessary," Watt told Houston reporters on Wednesday. "I fully understand and respect the situation that I'm in at the moment, and what's happened in the past few years, so I'm not gonna sit here and demand anything. I think if I went back and asked for an extension or more money, I think that would be the wrong move. I am just going out there to prove my worth and to help this team win games."

As of now, it is unsure what the future holds for Watt's career with the Texans. Should management re-sign the three-time Defensive Player of the Year winner (2012, 2014 & 2015), the question becomes: How much is Watt worth as he enters the twilight of his career? It's the subject that will be the driving force when discussing Watt's future with the team, and the segment that sparked a trade rumor of his departure to the Chicago Bears.

Although his on-field production remains extremely valuable, Watt has had a difficult time trying to stay healthy. Since 2016, he has missed 32 out of a possible 64 games due to an abundance of injuries. In 2019, Watt missed half of the season after suffering a torn pectoral during the Texans' 27-24 victory over the then-Oakland Raiders.

"My goal for every season is to do whatever possible to help this team win, and number one, that means staying healthy," he said. "You have to be on the field in order to help the team win, and then it is to play at the peak physical level I am capable of. It is just making sure I am in the best possible shape to perform that way."

Contract and injuries aside, the five-time Pro-Bowler is excited about his opportunity to play under new defensive coordinator, Anthony Weaver. During his introductory press conference two weeks ago, Weaver said Watt will remain the focal point for the Texans' defense in 2020, but acknowledged getting the future Hall of Famer through 16 games remains a hurdle.

After four seasons serving as Houston's defensive line coach, the Texans promoted Weaver to defensive coordinator in January to replace Romeo Crennel.

"I love [Anthony] Weaver... I think that he has a great mixture of knowledge of the game, experience, but also personality to be able to handle the players in the room," Watt said. "To be able to inject some fun and excitement into meetings, practice and everything, all while bringing the knowledge necessary to run a good defense."

Under the guidance of a new defensive coordinator, Weaver may be just the coach to help Watt rekindle the potential that made him an All-Pro defensive end. Regardless of the uncertainties surrounding his future at the conclusion of his contract, Watt is hoping he will have the opportunity to finish his career where it started — in Houston.

"That is a goal of mine, and this city [Houston] has been incredible to me since I got here," Watt said. "I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I certainly hope that's the case."

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