Mike Meltser's free agency takeaways one week into the new season

MAD Radio
March 18, 2019 - 2:09 pm

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

1 - I find it incredibly surprising that one week into free agency, the Texans have yet to sign a single offensive lineman. This team allowed Deshaun Watson to be sacked more often than any QB in the NFL, and the only move that's been made since January is to re-sign the oft-injured Seantrel Henderson to a one-year deal.

2 - The most troubling sign of the last week was Mike Silver's report that the Texans lost out to the Titans for OG Rodger Saffold. Watson's cap hit is about $17M less than Marcus Mariota's, and Tennessee had a more expensive OL even before signing Saffold. I don't quite understand how the money would be the reason the Texans lost out on a player like this.

Ideally, Saffold would be a T, but signing him would have helped stabilize the OL. The Texans could have slotted him in at LG, which theoretically allows Saffold to help out either Julien Davenport or a rookie left tackle. The other guard spot would be a competition between Zach Fulton, Senio Kelemete, and Martinas Rankin, with Rankin possibly being able to shift over to RT. 

Rivers McCown wrote an excellent summary of why losing out on Saffold is so painful, considering Houston's position right now. He correctly points out that Saffold's guaranteed money is in the next two seasons, which lines up exactly with the two years when Watson remains a massive bargain for the team. 

3 - All of this is why it is imperative for GM Brian Gaine to sign a veteran offensive tackle. I repeat: the Texans must sign at least one veteran tackle who can compete for a starting job. The pickings are slimmer now, but former Raiders LT Donald Penn is an option, as are guys like former Falcons RT Ryan Schraeder, and former Broncos RT Jared Veldheer.

Penn is the one who makes the most sense. He has a long track record of success, and all you need is competence. Plus, Penn would be essentially the only long-term veteran on the OL. As long as his off-field issues check out, I would sign Penn to be a stabilizing force for a year. 

4 - A second problem with failing to address the OL is that the Texans have made it obvious that they are targeting an offensive tackle early in the draft, most likely with the 23rd overall pick. The entire league is aware of how much this line needs upgrading. I'm concerned that the desperation may force Gaine to trade up into selecting guys like Jawaan Taylor, Andre Dillard, or Cody Ford because it would cost the team precious draft choices. 

5 - Defensively, I don't mind the swap of Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson for Bradley Roby and Tashaun Gipson. It's definitely a Moneyball-style approach, but this exchange has the benefit of hopefully covering more needs. 

I wanted to re-sign Mathieu, but feel his deal with the Chiefs was exorbitant. The Honey Badger is being paid like one of the best players in the NFL, and I didn't think he played at that level in 2018. I wouldn't have minded bringing Jackson back, but Gipson looks like he will be a real asset against tight ends

6 - I like taking chances on high-talent, former first-round picks like Roby. We had a very interesting interview Thursday with 104.3 the Fan afternoon host Darren McKee, who laid out some personality issues with Roby. 

It seems like Roby has been a fairly inconsistent player during his 5-year career, and he could benefit from a fresh start. I like that he has the kind of raw speed that the Texans have been missing from the secondary. 

Having said that, Roby's inconsistency means the cornerback spot still needs help. Gaine must draft a CB with at least one of the top 3 picks that the Texans have in late April. 

7 - I want the Texans to upgrade the backup QB position. Brandon Weeden has barely played the last three seasons, and this team could use a younger option behind Watson. Because of his size, running ability, and starting experience, I would take a look at former Jaguars first-round bust Blake Bortles. The Texans are bringing in AJ McCarron for a visit Monday. I like that Gaine is looking to upgrade this spot.

8 - Ryan Griffin's time in Houston could swiftly be drawing to a close. Houston Texans' newest TE, Darren Fells, known as more of a blocker, is reported to have received a one-year deal. Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas are locks to make the roster in 2019, and both showed flaws in pass protection as rookies. Pairing the young guys with a veteran who can help a shaky OL makes a ton of sense, and probably should have been done a year ago.