March 21, 2015
Texans Add Hoyer, Wilfork, Shorts & Moore
by Bob Hulsey
With the new NFL calendar year, teams must trim their rosters to get under the salary cap and then re-sign some players or add new ones to have depth for the new year. The Texans said goodbye to the cornerstone of their franchise, wide receiver Andre Johnson, while also wishing farewell to center Chris Myers and linebacker Brooks Reed to free up cap room for the coming season.
Johnson signed with the rival Indianapolis Colts so Houston fans will still see him twice a year. Reed inked a deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Myers, as of this date, is still unsigned.
The front office went right to work upgrading the quarterback situation. First, they re-signed Ryan Mallett, who showed promise in two games before he was lost to injury. The Texans then won a bidding war with the Jets for veteran Brian Hoyer. A six-year veteran from Michigan State, Hoyer was the starter last year in Cleveland. Mallett and Hoyer both have connections to the New England Patriots where Bill O'Brien formerly coached.
Speaking of former Patriots, the biggest signing (at least in size) is nose tackle Vince Wilfork, an 11-year veteran who dominated the middle for New England and has won Super Bowls there. His veteran presence should also help defensive tackle Louis Nix who sat out due to injury all last season.
To shore up the secondary, the Texans signed safety Rahim Moore who was a starter in Denver. Knowing receivers were needed following the loss of Johnson, Houston inked Cecil Shorts III from Jacksonville giving Mallett and Hoyer a veteran receiving target.
The Texans turned their surplus of quarterbacks into draft picks by trading away two of them for seventh-round choices in 2016. Ryan Fitzpatrick was dealt to the New Your Jets while Case Keenum was sent back to St. Louis. The Fitzpatrick trade becomes a sixth-round pick should he reach certain benchmarks. The Texans also re-signed two key pieces from last year's team, right tackle Derek Newton and cornerback Kareem Jackson.
With the draft over a month away, conversation is shifting to who the Texans might add during the draft with the 16th overall selection. The free agency signing period continues although little cap room is left unless the Texans choose to renegotiate with a high-salaried player like Johnathan Joseph.
As it is, the loss of Andre Johnson stings for many fans but it was very unlikely the Texans would have been able to fill other needs if they had continued to pay Johnson's contract.
While a lot can still change, it would seem that the Texans will seek to add a wide receiver and defensive front-seven players in the draft's early rounds then will turn to offensive linemen and secondary depth later. A third tight end could also be in the mix.
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