AFC South Notes: Reader, Colts, Titans

The Texans lost D.J. Reader to an unlikely team, with the Bengals deviating from a long-conservative free agency philosophy to sign the breakout defensive lineman to a four-year, $53MM deal. Bill O’Brien confirmed (via the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, on Twitter) the Texans wanted to keep Reader. The seventh-year Texans HC/first-year Texans GM said team brass had “good conversations” with the interior defender’s camp about a new deal but acknowledged the team “couldn’t get that one done.” The Bills, Broncos and Titans were among the known Reader suitors before the Bengals swooped in. The Texans initially came in with a $6MM-per-year offer before the 2019 season, but Reader’s bet on himself translated into $13MM-plus-AAV deal. Houston has not made a move to replace Reader up front. The Texans have $35MM in cap space but are working on a Laremy Tunsil extension and obviously have a Deshaun Watson deal to consider.

Here is the latest out of the AFC South:

  • Justin Reid made a pitch to O’Brien to consider his brother as an addition at safety, Wilson notes. The Panthers recently released Eric Reid. In addition to the younger Reid brother, Houston employs Tashaun Gipson at safety and just signed Eric Murray to a deal that surprised many. The Texans are not likely to make another major addition at this position this offseason.
  • Coming off one of the worst kicking seasons in modern NFL history, the Titans are bringing back late-season addition Greg Joseph. But they will add competition soon, GM Jon Robinson confirmed (via Jim Wyatt of TennesseeTitans.com). Robinson said the team will look in both free agency and the draft for its second kicker. The Titans went a ghastly 8-for-18 on field goals last season. Joseph did not attempt a field goal in two regular-season games with Tennessee and only attempted one — a make — in the Titans’ three playoff games. The former Browns kicker made all 18 of his extra point tries, however, and was successful on 25 of 29 field goal tries during his 2018 season in Cleveland.
  • The ColtsT.J. Carrie addition did not seem to add up given Kenny Moore‘s place as one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks, but GM Chris Ballard said the team needed better depth at this position (via Stephen Holder of The Athletic, on Twitter). Carrie has played both inside and outside during his time with the Browns and Raiders and will likely be given time at both spots with the Colts. He’s done his best NFL work in the slot, however, so Indianapolis should be covered behind Moore this season. Moore missed five games due to injury in 2019.
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