Less than one day after watching their top two veteran safeties, and two leaders in snaps played on defense in 2018 — Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson — walk in free agency, the Houston Texans replenished their secondary on Tuesday by signing former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson and former Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby.
Texans will be signing former Jaguars' safety Tashaun Gipson, per @diannaESPN— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2019
Broncos former first round pick CB Bradley Roby is signing with the the Texans for 1 year and 10 million, per source.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 12, 2019
Here are my quick hit thoughts on these signings:
I like Mathieu and Jackson, but.....
In their wildest hypotheticals, I don't think the Texans saw the market for Mathieu getting as exorbitant as it ended up getting, with the Honey Badger ultimately getting a $14 million per year deal, which put him at the top of the market alongside Landon Collins. As much as I like Mathieu, I don't blame the Texans for moving on. As for Jackson, reportedly, the Texans didn't even approach him about a contract extension, which sounds absolutely nuts for a franchise that portends to want to build around the guys they've drafted (Jackson was their most tenured draft choice, first rounder in 2010). Ultimately, the Texans probably wouldn't have matched the $11 million per year Jackson got from Denver, but still, a complete shunning by the team surprises me. So yes, I like Mathieu and Jackson as players, BUT....
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....the value on Gipson and Roby makes far more sense.
....for essentially an average annual value of $25 million for both guys, that's just way too pricy. Instead, for about $7 million per year on Gipson (three years, $22 million, reportedly) and $10 million for just one "prove it" season from Roby, the Texans get a decent playmaker at safety for about half the price of Mathieu, whose playmaking ability is more reputation than actual production the last couple seasons, and a much younger player than Jackson who is a true cornerback, not a corner wanting to move to safety. In short, I'd rather have Gipson and Roby for $17 million than Mathieu and Jackson for $25 million.
Let's talk about this Roby deal for a second.
Roby was the Broncos' first round pick out of Ohio State back in 2014, and as talented as he is, he's had his ups and downs. Denver people will say that, when he was at his best, Roby really benefited from the presence of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Right now, he is the Texans' unequivocal No. 1 cornerback, although I would expect more moves to be made to shore up that position, either in free agency or in the draft. Roby reportedly turned down longer term offers from Pittsburgh and San Francisco for a one year "prove it" deal with the Texans, an approach that got Mathieu a top end deal at safety. We will see if it works out for Roby similarly.
What's left to do for the Texans this week?
GM Brian Gaine said before free agency began that he would be "selectively aggressive" in targeting and offering players a contract with the Texans. So far, he's found two good values at two positions of need. The upshot of this is that the Texans still have a ton of dry cap powder to make a really big splash, although the market for splash-worthy players is drying up quickly. I would expect them to sign a veteran wide receiver, a backup quarterback, and another cornerback before the week is over. I think the offensive line will get reinforced through the draft.