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.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Houston Astros made a big splash earlier in the week by extending Alex Bregman. They are on the verge of another big deal, according to multiple reports.

Extending Verlander

Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Astros and ace pitcher Justin Verlander finalized a two-year, $66 million dollar extension. Even at age 36, Verlander remains one of the best in the game. He went 16-9 last year with a 2.52 ERA and 290 strikeouts. It was his first full season in Houston.

Verlander quickly endeared himself to Houston fans after the last minute trade from Detroit in 2017. He helped the team to its first World Series victory that year and has been a fan favorite ever since. The Astros window to win it again remains open, and Verlander apparently will be a big part of it.

If this deal is finalized, and the Astros can reach a longterm deal with impending free agent Gerrit Cole, the team should be set for the near future. Cole, George Springer and Carlos Correa will be the next players in line for deals, but in locking up Jose Altuve, Bregman and now Verlander the team will remain in pretty good shape moving forward.

Verlander's deal - like Cole's - was set to expire at the end of this season.

Texans finally address a need

Oakland Raiders v Minnesota Vikings

Matt Kalil. Getty Images.

The Texans needed to add offensive line help this off-season, but the options were limited and overpriced. On Friday they added the kind of player they needed, former Viking and Panther tackle Matt Kalil. It is a low-risk, high-reward move.

Kalil was a Pro Bowl caliber tackle in Minnesota until injuries slowed him in 2016. He started every game for Carolina in 2017, but missed all of last season and the Panthers let him go.

If he is healthy, left tackle becomes less of a priority in the draft - the Texans won't have to reach for one. If not, it's a low-risk move. If he wins the starting job, great. If he does not, it likely means the Texans drafted a better player.

They have not done a lot in free agency, but adding Kalil is a potentially key move. Former Raider Donald Penn is also still a free agent and if the Texans can add him as well, they have at least placed significant band-aids on a gaping wound.

Adding Kalil on a short-term deal is a much better option than spending huge dollars on Trent Brown. The potential success rate is basically the same.

The Texans still have some concerns - another tackle remains critical, and cornerback is still a serious minus, but now they can address corner in the draft without being locked in to taking a tackle. If they can add Penn, then cornerback immediately becomes the No. 1 priority. They could also use a backup running back and another interior D lineman, but those can be addressed in the middle rounds.

In all, this is a great move by the Texans, whether it works out or not.

Ohio State next for Coogs

Kelvin Sampson has the Cougars rolling. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston Cougars will play their second round NCAA Tournament game Sunday against 11th-seeded Ohio State after Friday's easy win over Georgia State. The game will be played at 7:40 p.m.

The No. 3-seeded Cougars are 5.5-point favorites.

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