Earl Thomas‘ scheduled workout with the Texans was scuttled, and head coach Bill O’Brien says it was due to the league’s most recent COVID-19 advisory (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). However, that’s not quite the full story, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), who hears that the Texans do not currently see Thomas as a great fit for their locker room.
Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowler, left his past two clubs on bad terms. In Seattle, Thomas literally left the team with an extended middle finger as he was carted off of the field. In Baltimore, Thomas failed to grasp the playbook in his first year and wore out his welcome last week when he got into an altercation with a teammate.
Thomas’ perceived attitude problems would explain his ongoing unemployment. The years-long love affair between Thomas and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones did not result in a deal this year, and the Chargers were quick to pass on him after losing star Derwin James for the season.
For now, the Texans will continue with third-year starter Justin Reid and newcomer Eric Murray as their starting safeties. Meanwhile, they’re without key backup A.J. Moore, who has been placed on IR due to the hamstring injury he suffered against the Steelers.
September 29th, 2020 at 6:46pm CST by Sam Robinson
Some conflicting accounts emerged Tuesday after the cancellation of Earl Thomas‘ Texans workout. The All-Pro safety’s agents indicate Bill O’Brien informed them that the NFL informed him to nix Thomas’ workout because of COVID-19 concerns, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
Thomas’ Houston audition was scheduled for Tuesday, but the Texans reportedly sent him home. The Texans are somewhat connected to the Titans-Vikings coronavirus situation, in being scheduled to host the Vikes on Sunday. However, the Texans worked out four other players Tuesday, Howard Balzer of SI.com tweets.
Another report points to the Texans souring on Thomas. The Texans were previously reported to be the likely destination for the former Seahawks and Ravens defender, but the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain notes that internal team discussions determined Thomas would not be a good fit (Twitter link).
While the Texans door may not be fully closed, the 10-year veteran remains unattached as October looms. Houston has used third-year starter Justin Reid and March free agency addition Eric Murray as its first-string safeties this season.
TUESDAY: Perhaps this process has hit a snag. Thomas’ Texans visit is on hold, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets. It was scheduled for Tuesday. Should Thomas join the Texans, he would have to go through COVID-19 protocols. Delays would obviously stall the 10-year veteran’s 2020 debut. The Cowboys remain a non-factor regarding Thomas, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telgram tweets.
The Texans sent Thomas home prior to the workout, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The team planned to work out five safeties; none of those auditions have transpired, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Thomas has taken an offsite physical, he continues to wait on a team to green-light his 11th season.
MONDAY: The Texans are giving Earl Thomas a look. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the veteran safety has a Houston workout scheduled. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that “his signing this week is more likely than not.”
Following a physical altercation with teammate Chuck Clarkat practice, Thomas was released by the Ravens back in August. The three-time first-team All-Pro hasn’t seen much of a market over the past month. While the Cowboys had consistently been connected to the veteran, the team still hasn’t brought him in for an audition. The Falcons were considered a destination because of Thomas’s connection to head coach DanQuinn, but they’ve already been ruled out.
The Texans were connected to Thomas shortly after his release from the Ravens, and he subsequently picked up an endorsement from quarterback Deshaun Watson on Instagram. However, following the safety’s release from the Ravens, reports indicated that Houston wouldn’t make a run at the veteran. Things have changed a bit, though, as the Texans could use some depth after placing A.J. Moore on the injured reserve (per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter). They’re currently rostering only three safeties in Justin Reid, Eric Murray, and Michael Thomas.
It was only a year ago that Thomas inked a four-year, $55MM deal with the Ravens. While he received some criticism for missing team and position meetings, he was still productive on the field. While he struggled a bit to start the 2019 campaign, he improved enough throughout the season to earn his seventh career Pro Bowl appearance. The 31-year-old ultimately finished the campaign having compiled 49 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
Liuget first entered the league in 2011 and spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Chargers. Typically a consistent producer, Liuget inked a whopping five-year, $58.5MM extension with the Bolts in 2015, a deal that included $30MM in guaranteed money. He didn’t live up to that deal, thanks in part to a serious knee injury and a 2018 PED suspension.
Liuget, now 30, has been on the fringes ever since the Chargers declined his option in February of last year. When auditions with the Jaguars and Cardinals didn’t lead to deals, Liuget hooked on with the Raiders. After appearing in a few games for Jon Gruden‘s squad, the Bills scooped him up. All in all, Liuget appeared in ten games while registering 13 stops and one sack.
It’s unlikely that he’ll ever reprise his best work — including a 2014 campaign in which he compiled 57 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles — but Liuget could be a solid reserve for the Texans. For what it’s worth, Liuget says he’s 100% healthy and down to a trimmer 289 pounds.
September 25th, 2020 at 6:39pm CST by Sam Robinson
Eleven teams entered Week 3 at 0-2. While the Dolphins reduced the NFL’s winless contingent to 10 last night, the 11 0-2 squads were still the most since the 2008 season. This creates a pivotal third regular-season week for many franchises.
The Bengals, Broncos, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jets, Lions, Panthers, Texans and Vikings will go into Sunday at 0-2. A couple of these teams were fringe Super Bowl contenders — or at least strong candidates to win their respective divisions — while others’ 0-2 starts are not as surprising.
The typical talking point about how 0-2 records correlate with playoff absences is less relevant this season, with seven teams now invited to each conference’s bracket. But 0-3 cannot be easily dismissed. Since the playoff field expanded to 10 total teams in 1978, only five teams (excluding the 1982 strike-shortened season, which featured a 16-team field) have made the postseason after starting 0-3. Just one — the 2018 Texans — has done so this century.
Philadelphia and Minnesota’s starts probably qualify as the most surprising, given their recent histories and current rosters. But the Eagles are down three starting offensive linemen and multiple wideouts, helping lead to Carson Wentz‘s struggles out of the blocks. They rank last in DVOA, despite two dreadful Vikings performances. Wentz and Kirk Cousins boast the Nos. 32- and 31-ranked Total QBR figures, respectively. The Vikings, a top-11 scoring defense in each of Mike Zimmer‘s six seasons, have regressed on that front after several starters’ offseason exits. Seventh-year starter Anthony Barr is now out for the season.
The Giants and Jets have seen injuries deplete their rosters, but neither New York team was expected to contend in 2020. Carolina, which is down Christian McCaffrey, is in that boat as well. The Bengals poured more resources into their roster than they have in many years — signing D.J. Reader, Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell and Mackensie Alexander to help a porous defense (though, Waynes is set to miss much of the season) — and drafted Joe Burrow. But Cincinnati also entered the season as a non-contender playing in a tough division.
Two HCs from this contingent’s middle-class sect — Dan Quinn and Matt Patricia — reside only behind Adam Gase in first-coach-fired odds. With the Falcons starting 1-7 last year and becoming the first team in NFL history to lose a game after scoring 39 points and committing no turnovers on Sunday, Quinn is in a desperate situation. The Lions have lost 11 straight games under Patricia, who entered the season on the hot seat.
Denver can blame injuries for its situation, to some degree, with four of its six previous Pro Bowlers either out for the season (Von Miller, Courtland Sutton) or presently injured (Phillip Lindsay, A.J. Bouye). Drew Lock may also be out well until November. Houston has almost certainly played the NFL’s toughest schedule to start out — against Kansas City and Baltimore — and faces Pittsburgh on Sunday. Bill O’Brien‘s 2018 team rebounded, and the Texans’ schedule stands to soften after Week 3. But it is safe to say the absence of DeAndre Hopkins has shown up thus far.
So which of these teams has the best chance of rebounding and qualifying for the 14-team playoffs? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
The Texans could use the help at wide receiver, but they won’t be calling on Antonio Brown. Despite comments from head coach Bill O’Brien that seemed to leave the door open, the Texans do not have interest in AB, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
The post-DeAndre Hopkins era is off to a rough start. The Texans are winless and the passing game seems rudderless, even under the guidance of Deshaun Watson. Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb fared better against the Ravens than they did in the season opener against the Chiefs, but the Texans will need sustained production in order to turn things around. Next up, a road matchup against the 2-0 Steelers that could put them in an 0-3 hole.
Over the course of his ten-year career, Brown tallied 841 receptions for 11,253 yards and seven Pro Bowl appearances. Not long ago, Brown was regarded as a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the game’s most dangerous offensive talents. At this point, it’s unclear if the 32-year-old will play again. He’s got six games to go on his eight-game ban from the league office and a reputation for disrupting locker rooms. The Texans, apparently, want no part of it.
Stars Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lobbied for Brown throughout the offseason, but the Ravens and Seahawks both came to the same conclusion. If they didn’t have enough sway to spark a deal, then it’s possible that no GM or owner will be convinced to sign him.
After an 0-2 start, the Texans are open to all avenues for improvement. That apparently includes controversial free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown. On Friday morning, head coach Bill O’Brien didn’t dismiss the possibility of signing AB.
“I would never discuss anything in that regard,” O’Brien told reporters (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle). “Right now, we’re very satisfied with what we have. You never say never to anything. I don’t anticipate anything whether that player or any other player.”
From a football perspective, the Texans could surely use Brown. Between their losses to the Chiefs and the Ravens, the Texans have fallen short by a combined 31 points. Life without DeAndre Hopkins is hard, as many expected. Receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb were brought in to help fill the void, but, so far, they’re not quite clicking with plays from offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.
Even if the Texans wanted to bring in Brown today, they’d have to wait another six games before getting him on the field. Still in the midst of his suspension, Brown is also busy with more legal matters. Just recently, a Florida judge ordered Brown to turn over text messages and other evidence pertaining to a civil suit from a woman who accused him of rape and sexual assault.