The Houston Texans enter the offseason with a lot to feel good about, but work remains if the team hopes to become a Super Bowl contender in 2016 and beyond.
The Texans’ ability to overcome a disappointing 2-5 start to the season to win the AFC South was impressive. But the team’s performance in their 30-0 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs indicates there are areas of the roster still in need of significant improvement, particularly at the game’s most important position.
Here are five areas of the roster the Texans must address before the start of the 2016 season.
Led by veteran Brian Hoyer, the Texans started four different quarterbacks in 2015. Hoyer was steady most of the season after taking over for good in Week 6, but turned in the worst performance of his career in the playoff loss to Kansas City. The Texans need a franchise quarterback. At the very least, Houston needs someone who can push Hoyer for the starting job. Tom Savage, who missed the entire season with a shoulder injury, may be in the mix, but the team needs to consider trading up in the draft if they identify a quarterback they like. Acquiring a veteran capable of starting immediately, either through free agency or trade, should be a consideration as well.
2. Running back
Arian Foster will be 30, carries a high salary cap number and is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. His future with the Texans is very much in doubt. Alfred Blue started the majority of the season and ran for more than 100 yards two of the last three weeks of the regular season, but the Texans should look for a young back that can at least challenge him for playing time. This is another position Houston should address in the draft.
Journeyman Quintin Demps, started 13 games at strong safety, recording 61 tackles, a half sack, one interception and forced fumble, but is set to be a free agent. Strong safety is perhaps the weakest part of the Houston defense entering the offseason and the Texans should be in the market for an upgrade.
4. Wide receiver
Houston has one of the NFL’s most dynamic receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, but not much beside him. Rookie Jaelen Strong came on late and shows promise, but veterans Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts both dealt with injuries that limited their effectiveness. The Texans need to add at least one more proven receiver to give Hopkins some help.
Duane Brown sat out two games early in the season with a hand injury and missed the playoff loss to the Chiefs after tearing his quadriceps tendon in Week 17. The 30-year-old will be back next season, but he’ll be coming off a significant injury and his backup, Chris Clark, is a free agent. The Texans need to invest in a reserve tackle capable of stepping in for Brown if he misses time next season. Drafting a young player to develop at the position might not be a bad idea.