Getting through the analysis of the cornerback position was a cathartic process. As of right now, it's not very good, but fortunately a secondary is comprised of two elements — cornerbacks and safeties — and while the cornerback position is in teardown mode, the safety position, at the very least, has one of the bright, shining lights on this team patrolling centerfield.
So, without further ado, let's get to three burning questions about the Houston Texans' safety position group this 2020 offseason:
Is Justin Reid ready to leap to the Pro Bowl?
If you were making a list of current Texans players that you KNOW will still be here in five seasons, it probably goes like this — Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, and the list is probably rounded out with Justin Reid. (Point of information: J.J. Watt is obviously a talent that belongs on this list, but there's no guarantee he hasn't retired by then.) Reid has made about as big an impact in his first two seasons as any player in team history not named Watt or Watson. Think about it — Reid has made at least three plays that have essentially won games for this team. There was the 101 yard pick six against the Redskins in 2018, and then in 2019, he had the tackle at the goal line on the two point miss against the Jaguars and the pass breakup that turned into a Whitney Mercilus interception versus the Titans. Reid is smart, and tough as nails, having played the entire 2019 season through a shoulder injury he had fixed within a couple of days after the playoff loss to the Chiefs. Reid making the leap to Pro Bowl level is almost a necessity for the Texans to accomplish their goals in 2020.
Can Tashaun Gipson stay healthy?
When the Texans let Tyrann Mathieu walk in free agency for a league record (for a safety) $14 million per season, and backfilled him with Gipson for about half that, I liked the move. It made sense at the time. Who knew Mathieu would find his All Pro fastball again in 2019, and who knew that Gipson's body would break down so drastically at the end of the season. Gipson's specialty has been covering tight ends, and his absence was painfully obvious in the playoff loss to the Chiefs, with Travis Kelce catching ten passes, including three touchdowns. Gipson played all 16 games the previous three seasons in Jacksonville, so the hope here is that he can stay healthy all season, and be a part of a playoff run next year.
Who is this year's Jahleel Addae?
Addae signed with the Texans well after the initial wave of free agency last season, on a near veteran minimum deal. Like Darren Fells on the offensive side of the ball, Addae was a sneaky signing for the team, giving them a ton of quality snaps as a safety in sub packages, and a starting safety when Reid or Gipson couldn't answer the bell. Addae finished the season with a couple of picks, including the game clincher against the Buccaneers in Week 16. The Texans need to find a veteran third safety. Maybe it's Addae again, if the price is right. If not, there should be a long list of veteran safeties over the age of 30 who are looking for backup work on a good team.
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