A BIG DEAL

Texans trade for Broncos WR Thomas shows changing attitude in NFL toward big in-season moves

Demaryius Thomas is now a Texan. Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

It was not that long ago that people would call into talk shows and suggest NFL deals, and they would be laughed off the air. NFL teams simply did not make major moves, especially in season.

That all changed a few years ago when the Colts dealt Trent Richardson for a No. 1 pick. Then the Eagles dealt LeSean McCoy. Earlier this year, the Raiders parted with Khalil Mack, perhaps the most disruptive defensive player in football, for two No. 1 picks.

The Texans got in on the action before the deadline Tuesday, acquiring WR Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick. It is the biggest in-season deal the Texans have made and it happened a few hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Thomas has lost a little at age 30 and carries a $14 million cap hit for 2019, but he is also durable and remains productive and offers insurance for the oft-injured Will Fuller, who was lost for the season last week. The Texans have a similar young player to Fuller in Keke Coutee, who has been effective when on the field but has been Fuller lite when it comes to injuries, playing in just four of the Texans eight games.

Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl winner and has not missed a game since 2011. He was on pace for 800 yards with the Broncos - numbers that should go up with Deshaun Watson throwing him the football as opposed to Case Keenum. The trade also means the Texans will not face Thomas Sunday in Denver - a positive considering the injuries in the Texans secondary.

The Philadelphia Eagles also got in on the trading action on Tuesday, acquiring WR Golden Tate from the Lions for a third-round pick. The Baltimore Ravens added Ty Montgomery from Green Bay for a seventh. The unbeaten Rams also acquired pass rusher Dante Fowler, Jr. from Jacksonville for a third and a fifth.

The Thomas deal helps add a key weapon for Houston, and the price was relatively low. They still have holes at cornerback and the offensive line, but at least this trade fixes one main concern.

Thomas just missed 1,000 yards only a year ago with a mishmash of quarterbacks, something new teammate DeAndre Hopkins has dealt with most of his Texans career. He was one of the better wide receivers available, and the Texans snatched him up. 

The Texans last major deal was shipping two No. 1s to Cleveland to draft Watson, and dealing Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick to get the Ostrich and his albatross contract off the roster. 

Now they have gotten involved at the trade deadline, and the result is the roster looks a lot better than it did this morning.

 

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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