by Garret Heinrich (@GarretHeinrich)
The Houston Texans are now in the offseason of the 2017 season and that means that they have to start evaluating players and figuring out who will come back and who will be gone. Right now the Texans have 53 players under contract for 2018. Fifteen players from their 2017 roster are unrestricted free agents, which means they can sign with whomever they would like when the league year begins. Let’s look at those 15 players and rank them based on who is the most important to resign for the 2018 season and possibly beyond.
1. Shane Lechler – P
The 41-year-old punter is on the record saying he wants to return. When the best punter of all-time wants to keep playing, you resign him. Especially when it will likely only cost you $2,000,000-ish to do it. Bring him back! If you win a Super Bowl next year, he might even be the first Texan in the Hall of Fame!
2. Marcus Gilchrist – SS
Yeah, right, this is how thin the pool of free agents for the Texans is. The strong safety who wasn’t great, but wasn’t completely terrible is good enough to get a two-year contract from this team heading into his 30-year-old season. If another UFA like Kenny Vaccaro or Eric Reid seem interested maybe sign them for a longer deal, but Gilchrist should at least be an option.
3. Johnathan Joseph – CB
The Texans secondary was a big weakness for the Texans this season. Their coach was let go right after the season. But the likelihood of Trumaine Johnson signing with Houston is unlikely. Is Prince Amukamara or Justin Bethel an upgrade over J-Joe? It’s not going to be easy to improve this secondary in free agency and sometimes the Devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
4. Chris Clark – OT
NOW HEAR ME OUT. Agreed, no one on the Texans offensive line aside from Nick Martin and maybe Greg Mancz deserves to be back on this team. But Clark wasn’t the worst person on the line (we’ll get to a few of those guys later) and he can play multiple positions. You wouldn’t feel horrible if Clark came back as a swing tackle to help out when needed. Don’t bring him back as a starter.
5. Eddie Pleasant – FS
Somehow Eddie Pleasant is entering his 7th year in the National Football League. He doesn’t do anything great. But he is someone who makes some plays on special teams and occasionally can do some things in coverage on tight ends in a pinch. For the money (probably about $1.5 million) you need bodies and he is a capable body on special teams and has the ability to spell some starters without it being a complete dumpster fire.
6. Alfred Blue -RB
If Blue doesn’t return to the Texans it wouldn’t be a surprise if he lands somewhere and scores some touchdowns or has a few games as a backup that people on twitter will get mad at the Texans for letting him go. But Blue doesn’t do anything that Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman don’t do better. He would be a 3rd running back on this team and a special teams player. You can find someone with his skills late in the draft, off the other free agent heap or after the draft. No reason to bring him back.
7. Andre Ellington – RB
It’s hard when you went to Clemson to not be on the Houston Texans. Ellington is a different back than Blue. He gives you a chance on returns and has the better experience in the league. Plus Clemson. So I think he might actually be a better fit than Blue, but he is a bit older so I’ll put him lower on the list.
8. Marcus Williams – CB
Yes, this is a member of the Houston Texans. He played about 120 snaps this year and had an interception and 18 tackles, but didn’t really do anything. No need to sign him, but if they like him on special teams maybe he comes back. He would be cheap.
9 – 15
Breno Giacomini – RT
Xavier Su’a-Filo – G
Josh Johnson – QB
Jordan Todman – RB
T.J. Yates – QB
Jelani Jenkins – OLB
Tom Savage – QB
None of these guys need to be back with the Houston Texans. Breno Giacomini was one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL this year, pair him with the first pick of the 2014 second round Xavier Su’A Filo and you have two of the worst lineman in the NFL. They don’t need to be back. The three quarterbacks can’t be productive in this system and they are elsewhere. Sadly it might be T.J. Yates’ career now. Let’s commission the statue outside of NRG. Todman and Jenkins are bottom of the roster also-rans and can be forgotten.
When you seriously look at the Free Agent class of 2017 for the Houston Texans, Shane Lechler is the only one who you say, “he would be missed”, but a few of these guys will likely be back. NFL Teams love “system knowledge” and these guys have it. The best thing about ALL of these contracts is none of them would break the bank and the Texans have cap room, so a few of these guys will help the 2018 Texans.