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Houston Texans: Top priorities for the new general manager

Houston Texans
Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Following the sudden firing of Brian Gaine, the Houston Texans general manager search has been eventful. As they sought out Nick Caserio from New England, the Patriots accused them of tampering. This resulted in the Texans ending their pursuit of Caserio. Although it’s quite possible we see this revisited following the season. Both sides have expressed mutual interest.

Now Houston is back to square one and even considering to go GM by committee for the 2019 season featuring the likes of Bill O’Brien and Cal McNair. This isn’t the worst idea. You certainly don’t want to be hasty when it comes to appointing a new general manager. In the case, if Caserio is indeed their guy, the Texans should be patient and wait.

Whether we see a new general manager named prior to the season or not, there are a number of tasks and priorities that need to be managed. Whoever is named the fourth general manager in franchise history is going to have to grind from day one.

Deal with Jadaveon Clowney

Entering the season, Jadeveon Clowney‘s situation is the tabloid black cloud hovering above this team. Whether it’s a trade or an extension, the Texans need to address this situation sooner rather than later. We saw what happened last year with Le’Veon Bell. He threatened to sit out the season if he wasn’t handed a long-term deal. The Steelers didn’t take the bait and Bell ultimately sat out the entire season. This left Pittsburgh without their franchise running back and zero compensation to show for it.

At the very least, if investing a massive amount into Clowney isn’t ideal, receiving assets in return is imperative. We saw the king’s ransom Kansas City sent to Seattle in exchange for Frank Clark. Clowney is even younger with a clean track record off the field. Thus, he should net even more capital. The longer this goes unresolved, the more leverage Houston loses in trade negotiations.

This is an immediate issue and likely the first order of business for the new general manager. As we progress into the preseason, this situation will continue to weigh on the rest of the team. It must be dealt with as soon as possible.

Sign Deshaun Watson to an extension

When you have a franchise quarterback, you lock him up long-term, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Watson still has two years remaining on his rookie deal, plus the fifth year option. Still, you have to be proactive in a situation like this. Especially with the threat of a constant shifting QB market.

We’ve already seen Carson Wentz cash in big. Along with that, Dak Prescott is demanding $34 million per year as his contract is set to expire following the season. That seems excessive, but that number is only going to increase in the coming years as the QB market resets.

Luckily, Gaine’s lack of activity in player acquisition left Houston with a lot of cap space. Thus, they’re not in a position where they have to worry about accommodating that type of cap hit.

Rebuild the offensive line

The main priority for the new general manager, as it was with Gaine, has to be shoring up the offensive line. While Gaine invested two high draft picks on the unit, both picks were widely considered enormous reaches. Even with those selections, the Houston Texans will still field one of the worst offensive lines in the league this season. An offensive line which allowed the most sacks in the league last season didn’t improve much, although the effort was there.

That’s not to say first-round pick Tytus Howard can’t be a starting caliber player down the line. Considered a project, it’ll take him at least a year to get acclimated to the NFL. Besides him, there aren’t any other players along that line you can point at as long-term contributors. Although, younger guys such as Martinas Rankin and Julie’n Davenport could seize the opportunity and carve out starting roles over the next few years.

At the end of the day, protecting your investment under center is most important. Thus far they’ve failed at maximizing their Super Bowl window under Watson’s rookie deal. However, they need to be equipped up front for when the time comes of giving Watson that monster deal. Through the early stages of my 2020 NFL Draft scouting, it has the makings to be one of the best offensive tackle classes in recent memory.

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