The tampering period of the NFL off-season is moving toward the start of the the new league year, signaling opening season on players available to sign. The Houston Texans have kept a tight lid on all of their plans, much like last off-season, but there is plenty of news regarding the team and the direction in which they are headed.
The Texans off-season plan continues to take shape but much of it is based on the injury of Derek Newton during the 2016 regular season, which leaves a gaping hole on the depth chart. The Texans currently have no starting right tackle and a questionable spot in swing tackle Chris Clark. With a thin free agent pool of tackles plus a weak class in coming out of the draft, that spot hangs over the Texans heads as the organization makes choices on other current position groups in free agency.
One offensive tackle the Texans inquired about, Ricky Wagner, agreed in principal to a deal with the Detroit Lions for $9 million a year, which is comparable money to what current Texans tackle Duane Brown is making. The NFL is now setting up for the tackles to have comparable value and, with Andre Whitworth signing with the Los Angeles Rams for $13 million a year, the Texans might have to wait for the top tier offensive tackles to find homes and assess the remaining options on the market.
The talk of the Texans free agency continues to surround the status of A.J. Bouye and whether he will remain in Houston. Things we do know are that Chicago, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay were initial teams to reach out to Bouye. Chicago and Tennessee for the second season continue their pursuit of Bouye, which started when he was a restricted free agent prior to the 2016 season, and now Jacksonville has entered the picture as well.
Early indications had the Texans taking a similar approach to when Kareem Jackson was hitting the market in 2015. The team let Jackson hit the market, talk to other teams, giving the Texans one last chance to match the offer. In Jackson’s case, he turned down a slightly better deal with New Orleans to return to Houston.
Bouye is in a different situation than Jackson (Jackson was a first round selection), as Bouye was a rookie free agent out of UCF and played the past four seasons on league minimum deals in-line with his accrued seasons. Now, everything has lined up for Bouye with good play in 2016 and a soft cornerback market in free agency plus so many cornerback needy teams with cap space. Stephon Gilmore, who was considered the top cornerback option on the market by some, is set to sign a deal north of $14 million a year with New England.
Expect the Texans to get one final shot at putting a deal in front of Bouye before any final decision is made from his standpoint on remaining in Houston.
The market is close to opening for Tony Romo and Denver and Houston remain hot spot destinations for the veteran quarterback. Expect a phone call, at least, to feel out the situation concerning Romo. There are no real indications that the Texans are hell bent on locking up Romo due to injury history and what the exact money would be to bring him in. If the Texans truly want Romo, a meeting would have to take place with him especially from the medical side of things. That situation remains fluid at best.
Vince Wilfork remains undecided on whether he will return in 2017. His decision to retire remains a roster spot question mark that the Texans are going to have to keep an eye on as the off-season progresses. The Texans have left the door open for Wilfork to return if he chooses.
The Texan re-signed Shane Lechler and Nick Novak prior to the start of the new league year. Texans are expected to have Ka'imi Fairbairn and Novak battle it out for the kicking duties for the upcoming season while Lechler remains on the gentleman’s deal of controlling his career. If he wants to continue to play, the Texans will continue to offer him one-year deals until further notice. Lechler has a goal of punting for 20 seasons; he will now enter his 18th season in the NFL with this new deal.
Related Articles: Texans to Have Interested in Ricky Wagner | Eagles Reach out to A.J. Bouye | Five Teams After A.J. Bouye | Texans Re-Sign Nick Novak | Texans Bring Back Shane Lechler for his 18th Season | Tony Romo is Set to be Released and the Texans are Lurking