Texans' free agent outlook: Quick turnaround may be in cards

Texans' free agent outlook: Quick turnaround may be in cards

Credit: Getty Images

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 29: Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans walks off the field during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 29, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Texans 16-10. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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by Nate Davis / USA TODAY Sports

khou.com

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 9:17 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 28 at 9:17 PM

USA TODAY Sports will provide a snapshot of each team's roster and considerations heading into free agency, which officially begins March 11 at 4 p.m. ET:

HOUSTON TEXANS

Prominent free agents: TE Garrett Graham, T Ryan Harris, FB Greg Jones, RB Deji Karim, LB Joe Mays, NT Earl Mitchell, LB/ST Darryl Sharpton, DE Antonio Smith, G Wade Smith, RB Ben Tate

MOCK DRAFT 2.0: Clowney to Houston at No. 1

Issues: The Texans obviously didn't contend for the Super Bowl as expected in 2013. Yet though they finished with a 14-game losing streak and the league's worst record, their roster indicates they're anything but the NFL's sorriest outfit. They'll have to seriously weigh the future of some struggling veterans and their hefty contracts (QB Matt Schaub, TE Owen Daniels, CB Johnathan Joseph). DE J.J. Watt aside, the D-line must be replenished. But a fresh approach from new coach Bill O'Brien, healthy returns from RB Arian Foster and ILB Brian Cushing, and top-shelf talent they should get in the draft while picking atop each round could portend a hasty turnaround.

Our advice: Given Schaub's $14.1 cap figure in 2014 and the organization's loss of faith in him, it's difficult to see him returning. But for a team loaded with veterans, targeting an experienced backup in the trade market (Kirk Cousins? Ryan Mallet?) might be the way to go rather than breaking in a rookie. That would also put Houston in better position to grab South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 pick or deal it. Graham is a nice young player worth re-signing at a reasonable figure, especially if Daniels is released. Tate has probably earned more money than Houston will pay. But a quality backup runner is a must given the mounting wear on Foster.

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