For a 9-7 team where the arrow is presumably pointed up and the feelings are (mostly) warm and fuzzy, the Texans have a fairly lengthy shopping list. Even after re-signing most of their prominent free agents and filling an important need by upgrading the safety position last week, there are still holes.
And there is one really, really glaring hole that would be glaring even if they hadn't released Andre Johnson last week (and let him saunter into the Colts' headquarters and ink a three-year deal).
The Texans need wide receivers...and I don't just mean "need" the way that most teams need a body or two to fill out a reasonable training camp depth chart. I mean "need" as in "if the season started today, Keshawn Martin would be starting at wide receiver for this team." That's horrifying.
The Texans will almost assuredly address this roster crater in the draft, but free agency must also be an avenue for them as well. And it appears they're working it.
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans will be entertaining wide receiver Cecil Shorts III today at NRG Stadium:
FA WR Cecil Shorts III is visiting with Texans today.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 16, 2015
To say that Shorts would be the Texans second best wide receiver if he signed here is somewhat faint praise. Right now, pretty much any semi-athletic male with two working hands and a pulse would be the Texans' second best wide receiver. (Um, no disrespect intended.) It's such a glaring need that whenever a wide receiver is even mentioned on Twitter, I will retweet the news with the hashtag "#HedBeTexans2ndBestWR".
Shorts, though, is actually someone who would be a plus for this receiving corps (admittedly, in an ideal situation, as a third or fourth wideout, but still...). He has some big play ability and is a good run-after-the-catch guy. (Also, he includes the suffix "III" in his name, so it lends itself to lots of "privileged proper name" jokes.)
Shorts' was a fourth round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 out of Mount Union. His best season was in 2012 when he averaged 18 yards a catch and had a shade under 1,000 receiving. Since then, he's cooled off a little bit (63 catches for 777 yards in 2013, 53 catches for 557 yards last season), but it's quite possible that has as much to do with the Jags anemic offense as it does the league figuring out Shorts.
For what it's worth, the Football Outsiders website ranked Andre Johnson and Shorts as the two least efficient wideouts in the league in 2014, so (snark intended) he might be the PERFECT replacement for Andre Johnson!
At what I'm guessing is a modest price with little future year encumbrance, Shorts would be a decent addition to this receiving corps.
Other names to keep an eye on as we head into the "bargain bin" portion of free agency season (most recent name in parentheses):
Stevie Johnson (49ers): His nondescript stint in San Francisco certainly hurt his value, but he's two seasons removed from a 1,000 yard season in Buffalo and, when he's right, provides a downfield threat.
Michael Crabtree (49ers): At one time, Crabtree appeared to be emerging to the point that he was validating his first round label from a few years ago, but obviously confidence around the league has waned. Tools and pedigree, he might be the best one still out there.
Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs): Doesn't strike me as a Bill O'Brien kind of guy. Romeo Crennel can give O'Brien exactly the scouting report he needs, having coached himself Bowe in Kansas City.
Greg Jennings (Vikings): Older, looked run down in Minnesota. Would be kind of a depressing signing at this point, only because you're be like "Damn, even an old bastard like Greg Jennings is our second best wide receiver."
Hakeem Nicks (Colts): One of the most odd regressions for a once (briefly) dominant player that we've seen in the last several years. I don't want the Texans to sign Nicks, mainly because it would allow Indianapolis to joke about how their signing Andre and the Texans' signing Nicks is in some way indicative of them getting over on the Texans. Just like...
Reggie Wayne (Colts): Same thing, only made worse because he was actually a college teammate of Andre Johnson so they'd be like "We got your U guy who can still play, and you got our broken U guy. HA HA HA HA!!!"
Denarius Moore (Raiders): Runs really fast. Also, he runs really fast.
One other Texans note, according to John Lopez, my colleague at Sports Radio 610, it doesn't appear that Vince Wilfork will be a Houston Texan. He visited here last night, didn't come away with a deal, and the belief now is he could wind up with the Colts, Ravens, or back with the Patriots.