Should the team bring back Tyrann Mathieu or consider available free agents?

Texans about to do the Safety Dance

Does the Honey Badger return? Bob Levey/Getty Images

Going into last season the Texans had several questions about their secondary and who would fill what roles for Romeo Crennel's defense? By the end of the campaign, the team had a firm grasp of who would be there for the long haul as rookie Justin Reid established himself as a bonified starter, big hitter and above average coverage safety. The first round talent was a steal in the thirrd round and made new General Manager Brian Gaine look like a genius as he played in all 16 games, starting 12 and intercepting three passes.

Playing along Tyrann Mathieu the duo was athletic, active and hard hitting. The "Honey Badger" proved to be another bargain in his first year with the team as he signed for one year and $7 million dollars and then proceeded to take on a leadership role both on the field and in the locker room as he had 70 solo tackles to equal Reid's number for the season and added two picks.

With the revolving door of cornerbacks the team was forced to go through, the stability on the back end of the unit proved to be extremely valuable and helpful as it allowed Crennel the ability to be flexible and move players around, like Kareem Jackson who alternated between the two positions throughout the year.

That was last year, with Mathieu a free agent and looking for a bigger, long term deal, does the team commit to him or explore the free agent market and try to once again catch lightning in a bottle at the safety position? There are options out there both young and old and it will make Gaine's job that much tougher as he attempts to find a balance between the price and the player in finding the best fit for this team going forward.

If the Texans elect to move on from Mathieu and look for a more "Gaine-like" big bodied, versatile, athlete that can excel in coverage as well as at the line of scrimmage and in the open field, there may be a perfect fit in Landon Collins. Collins has quickly emerged as one of the best young safeties in the league, but the Giants don't want to franchise him and thus, he looks to be headed out on the open market to test the waters and see if he can find a long term home with a team that has the ability to make the playoffs while maximizing his talent and versatility. He has made the Pro Bowl the last three years and has grown and improved with each passing year of experience. Losing and a dysfunctional locker room seemed to take its toll on the player as he cleaned out his locker at the end of the year and sent the message that it was time to move on.

Pairing an experienced and accomplished player like Collins with the young and impressionable Reid could be a dynamic duo that could hold down the last line of defense for Houston for years to come. If he does indeed escape from New York look for Gaine to get in line with a long list of teams that would love to add Collins to their roster.

The other name I think the Texans should consider is veteran Earl Thomas. The former standout from the University of Texas has established himself as the hardest hitting safety in the game and a respected, hard-nosed, intelligent defender that has lead the legendary Seahawks "Legion of Boom" defense to a Super Bowl title and years of notoriety. After his season of turmoil that ended in injury and controversy in Seattle it was obvious a divorce was imminent and his initial thoughts had the Cowboys as his next destination.

Fortunately for Texans fans, the 'Boys have their hands full trying to sign their own big named free agents and therefore they might not have the financial flexibility to land a player of Thomas' caliber. That would leave the door wide open for Earl to stay in Texas and head to Houston where he would be a great fit with JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and the crew while doing some on the job training with Reid. Thomas is a Rockets fan and frequently attends games in the offseason and he knows the city and the sporting community well. The Bayou city could be a great landing spot to mesh his talent and veteran leadership with the youthful exuberance of an up and coming young prodigy. I for one would love to see Earl hold down the fort for Bill O'Brien's defense and take his talents to H-town. Obviously, the choice is not mine but I would like to think that Thomas, Mathieu, and Collins are three very solid options and Houston would be happy to have any one of them.

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Houston sports: A song of love and apathy

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The Rockets lost to the Warriors at home in game six of the Western Conference semifinal round despite Kevin Durant being out. Durant left game five towards the end of the third quarter with a calf strain. No game in that series was decided by more than six points. To say they pissed away another golden opportunity in consecutive postseason runs would be an understatement. The team is married to a couple bad contracts which severely limits what they can do to improve, but at least they have a former league MVP in the fold to keep things interesting. After all, this team has only had two losing seasons in the last 20 to 30 years or so.

The Astros broke the curse of pro sports teams in this city not winning any titles couple years ago. Although it took this fanbase enduring several losing seasons, many of which the organization boldly claimed they weren't even trying to produce a winner, the fans were eventually rewarded with a World Series win. Not only that, but this team is built to contend for many years to come in the near future. Fans may have bandwaggoned their allegiance to this team after seeing them win, but you can't blame them for wanting to support a team that has gone from laughingstock to model of consistency.

The Texans finally found the most important piece to building a winning franchise when they moved up to draft Deshaun Watson. Before, they were a team in which very few outside of this city believed in. After drafting Watson, the feeling remains the same amongst those not considered hardcore Texan fans because they don't believe in the front office or ownership to lead this team to anything other than mediocrity. The Texans' fans will continue to support this team no matter what because it went through a period of not having an NFL franchise. The fan and ownership relationship is borderline abusive because ownership knows the fans won't leave, so they continue to act as if the fans don't matter.

Can you see now what I meant in the title? Part of my inspiration came from this FaceBook post by a good friend and mentor Craig Shelton. It was the best description of why Houston sports fans still feel love and appreciation for the Rockets and Astros despite any shortcomings they may have, but have skepticism towards the Texans.

When you look at the way things have fallen for the three different franchises, there's no reason why all three can't consistently compete for championships every year. The love and support the Texans get despite constantly letting this city down year after year is why I described it as abusive. Meanwhile, the Rockets can't even get a full house before tipoff of major games and the Astros play in front of a less than capacity crowd even when one of the premier MLB teams is in town during the week and sometimes on weekends. Yet the Texans will have sold-out games and thousands more tailgating for a Thursday night game against any random NFL team simply because it's an NFL team.

I sincerely hope one day that all three franchises will bring consistent winners to this city. The fans have been through enough. They've stuck by these teams, mainly the Texans, despite not being given a glimmer of hope. It would be nice of the Texans to return the favor and bring home a Lombardi Trophy for their fiercely loyal fans to go with the Larry O'Briens and Commissioner's Trophy the Rockets and Astros respectively have delivered already.

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