In the NFL offseason, when roster building and repair is at its peak, there are generally three ways in which teams go about executing their makeover plan. For the 2019 offseason, two of those methods are on the books. The land rush of free agency took place in March, and the NFL Draft finished up last week. Those are the two sexiest ways to remake a roster.
Now, we're into the part of the offseason calendar that is far less glitzy, the part where the less noticeable holes are filled in with street free agents and guys who've been sitting in the bargain bin waiting for a phone call. That's the third method, and right now Brian Gaine and 31 other general managers are still rummaging through NFL discards to see if there's anything that can help their teams.
With that in mind, with rookie minicamp and OTA's nearly upon us, here are the five most pressing questions I have about the Texans' roster, as currently constructed:
Who will be the third running back when the first depth chart comes out?
Somewhat surprisingly, the Houston Texans have largely ignored the running back position in free agency and in the draft. This treatment of a position of need should be a great sign that they're supremely confident in how D'Onta Foreman will look once the pads come on. Last season, Foreman saw a little bit of action at the end of the season, but looked rusty. Reportedly, he is in phenomenal shape heading into 2019, which will be necessary as it appears he and Lamar Miller will be carrying the load. The Texans did sign Michigan running back Karan Higdon as an undrafted free agent, and unless your name is Arian Foster, that's a tough putt to make it as an undrafted guy. I would imagine Gaine is on the lookout for a veteran to add to this group.
Will the Texans look for a veteran wide receiver to add to this group?
Like running back, the Texans have largely stayed away from moves at the wide receiver position, and similarly, this should be a good sign that they're confident in (a) Will Fuller's recovery from an ACL tear and (b) Keke Coutee's ability to avoid hamstring injuries that dogged him throughout his rookie year. I would really like to see them add a veteran to this group — Demaryius Thomas would have been perfect had he not torn his Achilles in Week 16 last year, and then been released — as I'm not so sure I want to see a wide receiving corps with DeAndre Carter and Vyncint Smith as the second and third wideouts again. Ever.
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How about a safety to backfill the mass exodus at that spot?
The Texans did pick up a couple of defensive backs in the draft, taking Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson in the second round and Central Michigan cornerback Xavier Crawford in the sixth, but this does not address the exodus of capable bodies at the safety position this offseason. Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson left for big money in free agency, and Andre Hal retired. Right now, the third safety behind Tashaun Gipson and Justin Reid would come from a bunch of 2018 street free agents and waiver pickups that are here largely for their special teams ability.
Which offensive tackle winds up as the odd man out?
If there is one position that the Texans did not mess around with in the draft, it's offensive tackle, as Gaine's stated goal on draft night was to protect their quarterback better. So now, with a first round pick (Tytus Howard) and a second round pick (Max Scharping) in the fold, the numbers game becomes very interesting. Seantreal Henderson and free agent signee Matt Kalil were penciled in as starters by most before the draft, and last season's left tackle Julien Davenport is still in the building. I would imagine that these are the five that would make the team, but we will see what else turns up on the open market. Other than the two highly drafted rookies, there should be no sacred cows in this group.
How will this Ryan Griffin situation sort itself out?
One position that I would be shocked to see addressed at all in this portion of the offseason is the tight end group, as the Texans have now spent two third round picks and sixth round pick in the last two drafts on tight ends, and brought one in via free agency in David Fells. All of this. along with Ryan Griffin's arrest in Nashville last weekend, begs the question "What exactly happens with Griffin, and when does it happen?" Griffin was already teetering on the brink of release with the signing of Fells. The drafting of Kahale Warring out of San Diego State, who sounds like much more athletic, younger, souped up version of Griffin, would seem to have spelled doom for Griffin even WITHOUT the arrest. Now, doom appears imminent.