Texans Free Agency: Day One

Jermaine Every: Texans frugally fill holes on roster

Seantrel Henderson said goodbye to the Bills and hello to the Texans. Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Houston Texans had approximately $60 million dollars in salary cap space to spend this offseason. The fact that they’re extremely limited on draft picks and have a ton of holes to fill, it makes free agent signings that much more critical to putting a winner on the field every Sunday. They need to be more Jose Altuve when signing guys as opposed to Brian McCann. With Day One of the free agent signing period nearing it’s end, here’s a look at the Texans’ haul so far:

Offensive Guard Senio Kelemete

I wrote about this move mid-February and guesstimated a deal averaging $2.5-3.5 million per. They signed him to a three-year deal worth $12 million dollars, with $5.5 million guaranteed. Kelemete was versatile as a backup for the New Orleans Saints. At 27 years old entering his sixth season, this was a very low-risk, high-reward signing that should pan out for the Texans. Literally anything would’ve been better than Xavier Su’a-Filo! I expect Kelemete to step in and start from day one at guard, but he’s also had some experience playing tackle.

Offensive Guard Zach Fulton

While it’s being widely reported, this signing isn’t official as of yet, but could soon be. But I find it hard to believe that another team will swoop in and sign Fulton to a better deal than the reported $7.5 million dollar per year average the Texans are reportedly offering. Fulton performed well as a Kansas City Chief in four seasons. At 27 years old, Fulton has room to grow and improve much like Kelemete. This signing, along with Kelemete, shored up the guard position.

Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson

Henderson was once the No. 1 high school football recruit in the country when he committed to the University of Miami out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s 26 years old entering his fifth season. Henderson was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills because he admitted to using marijuana to help cope with the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. G.M. Brian Gaine knows Henderson from his time in Buffalo, so I’m confident he wouldn’t have signed Henderson had he felt this would be an issue. The one year deal worth up to $4 million dollars shows it’s more of a “prove it” deal, than a vote of confidence long-term deal. Again, anything would’ve been better than Chris Clark.

Cornerback Aaron Colvin

Cornerback was another position of need for the Texans. Perhaps it was exacerbated by the Jacksonville Jaguars signing former Texan A.J. Bouye last offseason, so they returned the favor by signing former Jag Colvin…? Definitely not an even exchange of talent, but an improvement in a position of need nonetheless. Colvin is 26 years old entering his fifth season, but has ZERO career interceptions! This isn’t indicative of his playmaking ability because he could’ve been asked to do some different things. However, it is alarming for the position. The four year deal is worth up to $34 million dollars with $18 million guaranteed. Colvin will be a welcomed addition if the pass rush is up to par.

The day isn’t over, neither is free agency. There are also the designated June 1 cuts which could provide more solid vets to hit the market. Another defensive back, offensive lineman, backup quarterback, linebacker depth, running back, and wide receiver are still needed. There’s more work to do for sure. But this was a good start to a disadvantaged offseason. Being frugal has its advantages, especially when you spend low and get a high return on an investment.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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