By Paul Gallant, SportsRadio 610

Oh, hello there. It’s me Paul Gallant. I didn’t see you there because I was busy watching cat videos on instagram . . . and procrastinating the writing of this article by getting into arguments with Royce White and his #BeWell Army. Yes, that Royce White.

Remember when I used to write about the sports? That was neat. But don’t worry, because Paul’s pen is back! At least until I get lazy again, resuming my consistent failure to deliver on my verbal promises during Gallant at Night! (cough, weeknights 7-11 on SportsRadio 610 cough)

If you look really hard, you can find sexual innuendo in the second sentence above. But don’t do that. It’s time to get serious.

Speaking of hands without fingers, that was the Texans’ offensive line last year, am I right? After Nick Martin, that sucker was Jason Pierre-Paul-esque. We knew it. Deshaun Watson knew it. And it seems the Texans finally know it, because they actually addressed the unit this offseason. Unfortunately, they didn’t do enough.

I’d be lying if I had hot takes about the Texans’ newest hogs; guard Senio Kelemete, guard Zach Fulton, and tackle Seantrel Henderson. But I’m certainly not assuming anything about them after Jeff Allen’s struggles since signing in 2016. Kelemete seems to have the most potential given the way the New Orleans beat talked about his time with the Saints. Fulton – formerly with the Chiefs – is a versatile option that has played both guard and center and rated highly on Pro Football Focus. And Henderson was once one of the most heavily recruited high school prospects in America.

The Texans could have signed ANYONE to play on the offensive line this offseason, and the unit would have improved. As someone closer to the situation described to me, it was the league’s worst unit. They’re a better group after these three low risk acquisitions. But the Texans whiffed on offseason priority number one – better protection for the crown jewel Deshaun Watson – BECAUSE THEY STILL HAVE ZERO TRUSTWORTHY TACKLES!!!

Getting former Patriots turned Giants tackle Nate Solder – if it was ever even possible – would have required overpaying the guy. But given the nearly $60 M worth of cap space the Texans had going into the offseason, I’d have done it. Two years worth of guaranteed money is a much better alternative than the unproven Julién Davenport, Derek Newton still trying to come back from TWO torn patellar tendons in 2016, and KENDALL LAMM (who is apparently still on the roster). [Duane Brown is nodding VORACIOUSLY right now.]

Yes, the Texans have 3 third round draft picks (68, 80, and 98 overall) to play around with. And per this draft pick trade chart, they’d be able to move up to 36th overall (a 2nd round pick) if they get lusty for a specific tackle prospect. But the odds of them finding an immediate contributor at tackle in this year’s draft are quite low. Here’s hoping that Deshaun Watson adopts the TB-12 method and stocks up on Boniva!

“Classic Paul.”
“I know, such a Debbie Downer.”
“What kind of idiot starts his first blog in months by burying the lead: acquiring the Honey Badger?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that the Texans were able to convince Tyrann Mathieu to come here. After all – like the Texans offensive linemen above – Mathieu signed a bargain deal to play in Houston. The 2015 All Pro (and 69th pick of the 2013 draft, nice) – is just 25 years old and signed a 1 year, $ 7 million contract to play for the Texans. A steal, right?

At face value, yes. But the guy has had injury problems. He tore his left ACL and LCL in 2013, his right ACL in 2015, and hurt his shoulder in 2016 (though amazingly, he played in 50 of a possible 64 games over that 4 year 2013-2016 stretch). He played a full season last year. But is it possible for him to return to the playmaking form he had as a 2015 First Team All Pro (5 picks, 17 PD, 1 FF, 1 Sack, and 80 tackles in 14 G)? I’m skeptical. And I’m sure plenty of other teams had doubts. After all, he ultimately agreed to join the Texans on a 1 year contract at age 25.

The Texans acquisition I’m most excited about? Slot cornerback Aaron Colvin. Why? Because real recognizes real. All pro corner Jalen Ramsey clearly thinks that Colvin’s a good player. Even better? This move took a bite out of the Jaguars, the Texans’ biggest competition in the AFC South (Titans = Frauds, we might need to make a book).

Colvin claimed to be the best slot cornerback in the game in the past week on Texans radio. But I’m curious if he’ll remain a nickelback. Johnathan Joseph – who will be 34 when the season kicks off – is the best outside corner in Houston. Meanwhile, Kareem Jackson is at his best when he’s lined up in the slot (especially if he blitzes). So could Colvin challenge the ever frustrating Kevin Johnson as the outside guy opposite Joseph? If Johnson can’t figure out his many issues, he may have to.

The signing  of special teams ace Johnson Bademosi presents a change in the Texans special team approach. Brad Seely is the Texans’ FOURTH special teams coordinator since I started covering the team back in 2011. And it’s safe to assume that the unit has sucked all the way back to 2002. So maybe . . . just maybe . . .  the Texans finally realized that coaching wasn’t the problem with the special teams . . . it was the PLAYERS! (And random Eddie Pleasant personal fouls.)

Last – and probably least – the Texans claimed former Browns and Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates. Will Fuller got hurt a few too many times last season. Should Coates actually make it to the regular season roster, he could provide some speedy depth at receiver and give the offense SOME element of a vertical threat.

“TLDR, give me the basics PAWL.”

All in all? I like the moves that the Texans made in free agency:

  • They still have cap flexibility to give Jadeveon Clowney a long term deal.
  • Added a couple of defenders who know how to be in the right place at the right time in Tyrann Mathieu (1 year, $7 M and Aaron Colvin (4 years, $34 M).
  • Paid a premium for special teams ace Johnson Bademosi (2 years, $6.25 M)
  • Brought in young offensive linemen THAT ACTUALLY HAVE POTENTIAL potential with Senio Kelemete (3 years, $12 M), Zach Fulton (average salary of $7 million), and Seantrel Henderson (1 year, $1.7 M(
  • Added speedy wide receiver depth with Sammie Coates (1 year $730 K)

But after the moves, I don’t expect the Texans to be legitimate contenders for a Super Bowl in 2018. I they’ll be an average – yet frisky! – 7-9, 8-8, 9-7 kind of team. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with that. 2019! That’s the year for the Super Bowl run.

Think about all the major holes that remain. They still need two offensive tackles, ANY tight end, running back depth, among other holes. They’re going to fix those without any first or second picks this year?

Then consider all the major injuries that key players are recovering from. Are we really expecting Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and D’Onta Foreman to be the exact same players they were before their respective season-enders?

I’m not. But I’d rather have these reservations instead of over-analyzing a rainy Sam Darnold pro day EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. We were there just a year ago. What a difference Deshaun Watson makes.

And maybe next season, that hand of his will have ALL its fingers.

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Weeknights 7-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

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