The Houston Texans have been one of the busiest teams in the NFL early on this offseason. Once free agency opened last week, the Texan signed a flurry of players to new deals in hopes of breaking out of the league's basement. Some of these signings have even come at great value, such as the addition of former Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, who agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal with Houston.
With that being said, this team still has a long way to go before it can compete for a playoff spot still. The signings they have made are nice and all, but the Texans are still one of the worst teams in the league from a talent perspective. With free agency dying down, though, now seems like a good time to reassess Houston's situation. So without further ado, let's recap the Texans' offseason so far, and see what areas on their roster they still need to address.
Texans' offseason recap
Key additions: WR Robert Woods, S Jimmie Ward, DT Sheldon Rankins, TE Dalton Schultz, QB Case Keenum, RB Devin Singletary, OG Shaq Mason
Key losses: DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, CB Tremon Smith, TE Jordan Akins, WR Brandin Cooks
Overall, the Texans are in a far better spot than they were before the start of free agency. Many of the players they signed are proven veterans, and should help the team improve in the short term. As previously mentioned, they won't turn Houston into a contender, but they are still good additions.
However, the losses Houston suffered are also pretty significant. Cooks was the team's leading receiver for the last three seasons, Akins was the team's starting tight end, and Okoronkwo was a valuable pass-rusher. That's a lot of production to replace, and the Texans likely won't be able to replace it all.
Obviously, Houston has some serious holes to fill. Quarterback is the big one, but the Texans will almost certainly draft one with the second overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, so we'll ignore that for now. Wide receiver also stands out after losing Cooks, but the Texans at least signed Robert Woods to help fill that void. However, there is one position that the Texans need even more help at that can addressed in free agency.
Houston, we have a defensive end problem
The Texans were already lacking at defensive end, and Okoronkwo's departure only emphasized that deficiency. Jerry Hughes had a strong 2022 campaign with nine sacks, but he'll be 35 next season and is nearing the end of his career. Houston's other defensive ends, Jonathan Greenard, Demone Harris, Derek Rivers and new addition Chase Winovich, combined for just 3.5 sacks last season. Even for a rebuilding team like Houston, that is not going to cut it in the NFL nowadays.
Fortunately for the Texans, there are still some good players available in free agency. Big-name veterans like Yannick Ngakoue and Frank Clark are still available, as well as more affordable options like Dante Fowler Jr. With over $30 million in cap space remaining, the Texans have plenty of room to add another defensive end to their team. Though, as a rebuilding team, the Texans may not want to spend much more than they already have in free agency.
What seems like a more likely option is that Houston addresses this need through the draft. While they'll most likely use the second overall pick on a quarterback, they still have the 12th and 33rd overall picks to round out the rest of their roster. There are several defensive ends who could be logical picks for Houston early in the draft, such as Iowa's Lukas Van Ness at the 12th overall pick or LSU's BJ Ojulari at 33rd.
While defensive end is an issue for the Texans, it shouldn't be for much longer if they play their cards right. Whether they address this spot in free agency or the draft remains to be seen, but with ample cap space and a plethora of veterans on the market, look for Houston to make a signing to address this big area of need as free agency rolls forward.