In terms of 2021, it began when a 10-year veteran and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year asked for his release and it was granted. Not long afterward, J.J. Watt was a member of the Arizona Cardinals – reunited a coach (Vance Joseph) and a former teammate (DeAndre Hopkins) who he was more than familiar with.
There were the departures of offensive linemen Nick Martin and Senio Kelemete and running back Duke Johnson. There was the trade of inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to the Dolphins for defensive end Shaq Lawson. And there’s been the ongoing status of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who John McClain of the Houston Chronicle now expects to be dealt.
New general manager Nick Caserio has already added close to 30 players (via Spotrac) with NFL playing experience via free agency or trade. The bigger names include running backs Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay, tackle Marcus Cannon, center Justin Britt (who did not play in 2020), quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and special teams aces Andre Roberts and Alex Erickson. The team had a lot of salary cap room entering this offseason and you get the sense that the Texans will be taking this free-agent route for quite a few months. Due to previous trades, the team does not have a first- or second-round pick in April’s draft.
There’s a new head coach in well-traveled David Culley. He inherits a club that hardly resembles the franchise that won the AFC South four times in five years before this past season’s 4-12 disaster. All told, 2020 began last March with the shocking trade of Hopkins to Arizona. Eventually, head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien was gone after a 0-4 start and the Texans closed ’20 with six consecutive losses.
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So what to make of all of these additions? What to read into the signing of Taylor and the subsequent trade for quarterback Ryan Finley? From afar, the Texans seem like a team kicking the tires on just about anyone available as they try and put together the pieces. Of course, a lot could change if Watson is indeed traded. But that’s something the franchise has insisted won’t happen. It adds up to confusing times in Houston and perhaps originally put in motion with the stunning dealing of Hopkins to the Cardinals.