The Houston Texans enter the 2023 NFL offseason as one of the most interesting franchises across the league. Armed with two picks in the top 12 in the 2023 NFL Draft, the third-most cap space, a need at quarterback, and a new head coach in DeMeco Ryans, the Texans should look significantly different next season. Expectations will depend on whether they hit on their best-case or worst-case scenarios.
We’re breaking down the best and worst moves that the Texans can make in free agency. An improvement over their 3-13-1 2022 finish is a must, but whether they can quickly turn their team around into a playoff contender depends on how much talent they can assemble.
Let’s dive into our Texans free agency predictions and free agent targets.
Houston Texans Free Agency Predictions
Best-Case Scenarios Include Lamar Jackson, Samson Ebukam, and Dalton Schultz
The Texans have to address the quarterback position this offseason. Davis Mills has been uninspiring and has failed to make an impact despite not being incompetent. New offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik has to push to get an actual playmaker under center.
Using the No. 2 overall pick on the quarterback position makes sense, but it shouldn’t be the de facto strategy for the team. With the Ravens applying the non-exclusive franchise tag on Lamar Jackson, the Texans must at least consider acquiring Jackson. It would cost them their No. 2 overall pick in 2023 and their 2024 first-round pick, plus a new contract.
Considering the Texans received far more for Deshaun Watson from the Browns last year, getting an extra first-round pick in a Jackson-for-Watson swap would be a coup. Ryans already said second-year star running back Dameon Pierce “fits my style of ball.” The prospect of adding Jackson to a backfield that would accentuate Pierce’s efficiency would create a devastating duo despite the cost of assets.
In addition to Jackson, Houston should reunite Ryans with Samson Ebukam. The former 49ers rotational pass rusher would help solidify a major weak point that has to see several bodies added to it. Ebukam, turning 28 this offseason, had 9.5 sacks in his two seasons with Ryans and shouldn’t break the bank compared to more established but older talent.
The final major free agent the Texans’ best-case scenario includes is Dalton Schultz. The Texans have needed a tight end since Owen Daniels left the franchise, and Schultz is the best playmaker across the receiver and tight end market this offseason. A real red zone threat, Schultz can see his game blossom in an offense that maximized matchups and created spacing in San Francisco, unlike Dallas’ simplified offense.
Worst-Case Scenarios Include Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Gesicki, and Frank Clark
New coaching staffs generally fall back on players they’ve previously worked with and are comfortable with. Slowik may have tipped the Texans’ free agency hand by admitting the team will look into veteran quarterbacks and that Jimmy Garoppolo “is obviously a part of that process.” While Garoppolo is better than Mills, spending a significant amount on him would be a mistake.
Garoppolo is the definition of average in many ways. He can execute a scheme and a little more. But he’s struggled with durability, starting more than 10 games only twice in his nine-year career.
Considering the goal would be to replace Garoppolo with a rookie at some point in 2023 or 2024 anyway, the Texans would be wiser to invest in their offensive or defensive line instead and add a veteran quarterback like Case Keenum, who can just be an adult in the room.
It’s also important the Texans avoid spending on over-the-hill veterans as they look to chase names they know. They need a receiver, but they should’ve been looking at younger, healthier options like DJ Chark or Parris Campbell instead of Robert Woods.
Woods, at 31, looked slow and done in 2022 after a torn ACL midway through 2021. He was on my worst-case scenario for the Texans before they signed him to a two-year deal because he physically appeared unable to contribute anywhere last year.
Adding explosiveness is more important, especially if they plan to trade Brandin Cooks. However, adding someone like Mike Gesicki isn’t the answer. Gesicki flamed out in Miami last season despite being a good receiving threat because he couldn’t fit the mindset that former 49ers coaches want out of their tight ends, and now Houston also has a staff filled with coaches from San Francisco.
Frank Clark is another two high-priced veteran who will be tempting as band-aid options. Clark hasn’t been overly effective in several years despite earning Pro Bowl nods from 2019 through 2021, totaling 15.5 sacks in his last three seasons.
Houston Texans Free Agent Targets
The Texans need to spend efficiently and pointedly. Outside of Jackson, who is our No. 1 overall free agent, it makes more sense for Houston to spend at several positions in order to help both sides of the ball. Here is a list of players, by position, the Texans should at least consider targeting in free agency.
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
- Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
- Case Keenum, Buffalo Bills
- DJ Chark, Detroit Lions
- Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts
- Darius Slayton, New York Giants
- Olamide Zaccheaus, Atlanta Falcons
- Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
- Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
- Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Emmanuel Moseley, San Francisco 49ers
- Nik Needham, Miami Dolphins
- Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
- Azeez Al-Shaair, 49ers
- Jayon Brown, Las Vegas Raiders
- Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia Eagles
- Daniel Brunskill, San Francisco 49ers
- Dre’Mont Jones, Denver Broncos
- Matt Ioannidis, Carolina Panthers
- Zach Allen, Arizona Cardinals
- Arden Key, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Samson Ekubam, San Francisco 49ers