- Garrett Graham (TE): Three years, $11.25MM. $4.25MM guaranteed.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB): Two years, $7.25MM. $4MM guaranteed.
- Chris Clemons (S): Two years, $2.7MM. $450K guaranteed.
- Kendrick Lewis (S): One year, minimum salary benefit. $65K guaranteed.
- Elbert Mack (CB): One year, minimum salary benefit. $65K guaranteed.
- Will Yeatman (OT): Two years, $1.9MM.
- Ricardo Mathews (DL): One year, minimum salary benefit.
- Andre Brown (RB): One year, minimum salary.
- Jerrell Powe (DT): One year, minimum salary.
- Ricky Sapp (LB): One year, minimum salary.
- Bryan Braman (LB)
- Owen Daniels (TE): Released
- Tim Dobbins (LB)
- Andrew Gardner (OT)
- Ray Graham (RB): Waived
- Ryan Harris (OT)
- Lestar Jean (WR)
- Greg Jones (FB)
- Deji Karim (RB)
- Danieal Manning (S): Released
- Joe Mays (LB)
- Brice McCain (CB): Released
- Terrell McClain (DL)
- Earl Mitchell (DT)
- Darryl Sharpton (LB)
- Antonio Smith (DE)
- Wade Smith (G)
- Ben Tate (RB)
- Acquired a sixth-round pick (No. 181) from the Raiders in exchange for Matt Schaub.
- Acquired a third-round pick (No. 83) from the Eagles in exchange for a fourth-round pick (No. 101) and a fifth-round pick (No. 141).
- Acquired Akeem Dent from the Falcons in exchange for T.J. Yates.
- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (1.1): Signed
- Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA (2.33): Signed
- C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa (3.65): Signed
- Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame (3.83): Signed
- Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh (4.135): Signed
- Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, Alabama (6.177): Signed
- Alfred Blue, RB, LSU (6.181): Signed
- Jay Prosch, FB, Auburn (6.211): Signed
- Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt (7.216): Signed
- Lonnie Ballentine, S, Memphis (7.256): Signed
- Hired Bill O’Brien as head coach.
- Hired Romeo Crennel as defensive coordinator.
- Exercised J.J. Watt‘s fifth-year option for 2015 ($6.969MM).
- Dealing with unhappy Andre Johnson, who didn’t report to offseason workouts.
- Received three compensatory draft picks.
- Signed 20 rookie free agents after the draft.
The Texans stole many headlines this offseason, but not for the reasons you would think. The team’s key additions weren’t via free agency. Instead, the key additions were a rookie coach and a rookie defensive end. Furthermore, the team watched as a number of key players – particularly on defense – left for greener pastures. However, the average age of those “key” players was 29. The moves (and lack of moves) indicated that the front office’s offseason philosophy was to look more towards the future than 2014.
The team’s first big addition came in early January. Following the firing of Gary Kubiak, the Texans hired Bill O’Brien as their new head coach. The front office is hoping O’Brien will carry over his success from Penn State, where the coach led an embattled program to a 15-9 record over two seasons. Prior to that, O’Brien spent five years with the Patriots, including one as the offensive coordinator.
The Texans’ next big move came during the draft, when the team selected Jadeveon Clowney with the first-overall pick. The Texans decided to not rock the boat and select a quarterback. Rather, the team chose a player who has been declared by league executives as one of the best defensive prospects in more than a decade (according to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah). Clowney had a historic career at South Carolina, where he set school records for sacks (13.0) and tackles for loss (23.5).
Clowney will be forced to contribute immediately considering the amount of production the team lost on defense. The Texans’ departures accounted for 33 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Losing Antonio Smith, Joe Mays and Darryl Sharpton will certainly hurt. Yet, it’s not surprising that a new coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, will be looking to develop their own personnel. Houston did make one notable signing on the defensive side, inking safety Chris Clemons to a two-year deal. The 28-year old may be a steal for the Texans; Pro Football Focus ranks Clemons as the league’s ninth-best coverage safety among 86 qualified candidates.
On offense, the big news was more about what the team didn’t do. To start, the team still hasn’t addressed the Andre Johnson situation. The seven-time Pro Bowler wants out of Houston, but many obstacles stand in the way. The team hasn’t seemed too receptive to a trade, and they would also be hard pressed to find a team that could accommodate Johnson’s $10MM base salary.
The team also failed to definitively address their quarterback situation. Following the trade of Matt Schaub, many expected the Texans to look towards the draft. The team passed on six rookie quarterbacks before finally selecting Tom Savage in the fourth round. They also added veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who seems to be more of a temporary stopgap. The team was previously connected to Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett, but so far it’s been all smoke and little fire.
Otherwise, the Texans didn’t do much to replace running back Ben Tate, tight end Owen Daniels and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Wade Smith. The team previously had Tate as a security blanket for starter Arian Foster; the team will now have to rely heavily on the injury-prone star. They added Andre Brown, but the veteran also battled injuries in 2013. The team re-signed tight end Garrett Graham, who finished last season with career-highs in yards (545) and touchdowns (five). The 27-year-old will likely have a larger role following Daniels’ departure. Meanwhile, rookie guard Xavier Su’a-Filo figures to get his shot at replacing Smith, who still hasn’t found a home this offseason.
Clearly, there are more question marks than answers when it comes to this squad. However, fans should remember that a rebuild is a marathon, not a sprint. With that mindset, it looks like the Texans are off to a very good start.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.