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's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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