Tate and Crabtree headline the list of free agent wide outs the team could target

Texans have options if they want to add a WR this off season

Antonio Brown, Golden Tate and Michael Crabtree.

The Texans head into the offseason with plenty of holes to fill. General Manager Brian Gaine has a full complement of draft picks and a good chunk of money to spend but his biggest challenge will be deciding how much money he can allocate to each position of need. If he overspends on one player or group, will he have to under deliver on other areas of need?

If he goes after some big names in free agency will he be able to find college athletes capable of starting in the NFL to fill positions that under delivered or fell short last season? The challenge of balancing draft picks and cap space is extremely daunting and if Gaine doesn't get it right it could set the franchise back for years to come.

For example, a year ago Nate Solder was the top offensive lineman available in free agency and everyone wanted the Texans to be first in line to swoop in and sign the super bowl champion that protected Tom Brady for years. Houston kicked the tires on the veteran tackle but felt his price tag was too high for their liking as the Giants signed him to a huge four-year, $62-million dollar contract with $35 million in guaranteed money. His first year in New York was less than impressive as the line struggled as much as the team did. Solder did start and play in all 16 games but it's safe to say Houston dodged a bullet by avoiding that big contract for a lineman over 30 years old. This year the team will have the fifth most cap space in the league at their disposal, but they need to spend wisely with several key positions to fill.

It's universally known that Houston needs to upgrade their offensive line this offseason but the Solder situation of a year ago hopefully has taught the team a valuable lesson about quality lineman. The best blockers in the NFL are developed through the draft and if a team finds a quality player in the trenches they will more than likely make sure to hang on to him and keep him in the fold for the majority of his career. Guards and tackles that hit free agency are looking for a big payday and rarely live up to their cap hit when playing for their new squad. Therefore, it is probably a safe bet that the Texans will address their deficiencies up front by drafting a few linemen on the first few rounds of the draft. If that indeed turns out to be the case, what else do the Texans need and where will they turn to get better?

One seemingly sure bet is that the team will look to upgrade and improve the second wide receiver spot next to all-pro DeAndre Hopkins. Last year was another frustrating and injury-plagued year for the players trying to take heat off of Hopkins. Will Fuller was hurt again, this time suffering a torn ACL that ended his season before it ever really got started and rookie KeKe Coutee also struggled with leg injuries throughout the campaign.

Desperate for quality and depth late in the regular season and in preparation for the playoffs saw the team trade for veteran Demaryius Thomas. The former pro-bowl wideout struggled to learn the playbook and eventually was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

With all the uncertainty surrounding these players and their health heading into next year, it would behoove Gaine and his staff to address the position group with free agency offering up several interesting names to consider. If they really wanted to make a splash they could call the Steelers and inquire about Antonio Brown but that would cost the team at least one high draft pick in the first 3 rounds as well as forcing them to eat up valuable cap space by absorbing his 17 million dollars a year salary for the next 3 years. If those numbers prove to be too rich for the team's blood, there are a few other names out there that will be less expensive and still would provide the team with a quality veteran option opposite Hopkins.

Golden Tate is a free agent receiver that would provide Houston with a durable and tough wideout that can still pop the top on defenses with his deep speed, as well as using his reliable hands to secure the tough catches over the middle and in the slot. He split time between the Lions and Eagles in 2018 and caught 74 passes for 795 yards and four touchdowns. He has only missed seven games in his nine year career and last year was the first time in the last five years he didn't catch at least 90 balls in a season. Tate made an average of $6.2 million dollars per year on his 5-year deal that just expired. Even if you had to pay him a little more than that on a short term contract of 2 or 3 years, he would be a nice upgrade over any receiver on the roster not named Hopkins.

Another option that the Texans could consider is Michael Crabtree who was released yesterday by the Ravens. He had signed a $3 year, 21 million dollar deal with Baltimore last season and struggled to find chemistry and productivity with the unstable QB situation of Joe Flacco and then rookie Lamar Jackson under center.

He had 54 receptions for 607 yards and three touchdowns while playing in all 16 games last season. He has only missed two games in the last five years and last year was the first time in four years he didn't tally at least eight TDs in a campaign. He has struggled recently with drops but some of that can be attributed to the uncertainty at QB in Baltimore.

Crabtree probably can be had for a contract in the $5 million dollar range for next season and might welcome a chance to play for a winner with an up and coming quarterback like the situation in Houston. Crabtree, like Tate, would be a substantial upgrade for the Texans and give the team a much needed additional weapon in the passing game. If Brian Gaine is able to add one of these two veteran wide receivers it would go along way towards upgrading the passing game as well as the overall productivity of Watson and the offense.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.

Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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