Steelers' Bell appears to be off the table
Gaine's running back plan for Texans is clear: Miller, Foreman expected to carry the load next year
Texans general manager Brian Gaine made clear at the NFL Scouting Combine where he stands on his team's running backs and where he wants the team to go in 2019 with the position.
"We like the composition of the current depth chart," Gaine said referring to veteran Lamar Miller and third-year rusher D'Onta Foreman.
"Lamar Miller was our starting back last year, was a borderline 1,000-yard rusher. Unfortunately, he missed a game or two. He probably would've gotten 1,000 yards on the season – three-down back."
Is it safe to say Lamar Miller is the starter for next season?
"Yes," Gaine replied simply.
While Miller missed the 1,000 yard mark he achieved his highest yards per attempt since his rookie year. He's scored six touchdowns in each of his three seasons as a member of the Texans. His receiving numbers dropped off last season to some of the least impressive of his career. He is entering he the final year of the free agent contract he signed with the Texans.
As for Foreman, Gaine sees potential in the young back after finally getting back from his injury.
"We're optimistic about a very positive return in his contributions. We saw glimpses of that the previous season. Also impressed us in the passing game, so we're optimistic that those guys will be back and intact."
With Gaine saying the team would be "selectively aggressive" it doesn't seem a play at big-ticket free agent Le'veon Bell is in the cards.
"I'm always going to try to prioritize this, we're always going to try to keep our own, draft and develop our own, and try to sign our own guys to long-term deals before we look for external solutions."
Gaine could be scouting the next member of the running back room this weekend though.
"Then, we're going to evaluate the draft here coming up," he said. "Ideally, we'd love to have a committee backfield and have contributions from various players, but Lamar was a three-down back last year and we're optimistic that Foreman will return to full health."
I don't hate this approach by Gaine. Lamar Miller, D'Onta Foreman, and a potential mid-tier free agent or draft pick is a fine running back room. I don't see how or why they'd get in the Le'veon Bell sweepstakes when they have to pay Clowney and a safety this year, key role players like D.J. Reader, and eventually Deshaun Watson. You don't need an albatross of a contract like Bell's on this Texans team.
They need someone else though. They can't lean on just Miller and Foreman like they did in 2018 with Miller and Blue. Getting someone in the building they trust is of paramount importance.
Trust is a reason Lamar Miller is going to be a rare NFL player who will play out his free agent deal as is. He isn't as frequently dynamic as he used to be but he is a fine part of a rotation. For some reason a lot of Texans fans think Lamar Miller's money is a problem for the Texans but he's only set to have a $7.2 million cap hit. Cutting just creates a hole you have to replace.
If D'Onta Foreman is close to the level of talent he possessed before injury he's the potential playmaker for the running backs. I am skeptical he's regained almost all of his ability but if it is true there is potential for him to lead the team in rushing next season.
As for the other spots I would love to see investment in either the second or third round in a running back. I like a lot of players in this class while I am not too fond of some of the veterans. Setting the room up for a Miller-Foreman-rookie depth chart in 2019 and Foreman-rookie-veteran in 2020 wouldn't be the worst move.