Despite a wildly unpopular trade, did the Houston Texans actually have a good offseason in 2020?
The Houston Texans have been an easy target for criticism throughout the 2020 offseason.
Bill O’Brien assumed general manager duties of the team last year in addition to his head coaching responsibilities, and O’Brien seems to have been taken for a ride in a few trades.
In particular, O’Brien traded away wide receiver De’Andre Hopkins, perhaps the best player in the NFL right now at a loaded position across the league, to the Arizona Cardinals for just a second-round pick and running back David Johnson, who is effective when healthy but oft-injured.
The trade was especially curious because Houston already had traded a third-round pick — another stunning lack of value — for running back Duke Johnson Jr.
Over the last two years, O’Brien has assembled a team of very expensive trade acquisitions and frankly a lot of reclamation projects, especially at the cornerback position which is a who’s who of former first-round picks who didn’t make it to a second contract with their previous teams (Bradley Roby, Gareon Conley, Vernon Hargreaves III).
As crazy as it sounds, when you look over the Houston Texans’ roster, it’s hard not to wonder if this team could possibly be a better sum of its parts in 2020 than it has been in recent years.
Maybe the team being built O’Brien’s way will yield better results than anyone really thinks at this point.
The new-look wide receiver position group
Without De’Andre Hopkins, to say the Texans’ wide receiver group will look different is an understatement. But this group, although downgraded slightly, may not experience such a dramatic drop-off in 2020 as originally anticipated.
Texans’ 2019 top four WRs
- De’Andre Hopkins
- Will Fuller
- Kenny Stills
- Keke Coutee
Texans’ 2020 top four WRs
- Brandin Cooks
- Will Fuller
- Randall Cobb
- Kenny Stills
The Texans also still have Keke Coutee around for even more depth, and I like fifth-round pick Isaiah Coulter as a really athletic, talented big-play threat.
There’s no guarantee of everything coming together on the field, but the Texans have a big reason to be confident it all will: DeShaun Watson.
Watson is a rare player who raises all boats on the offense. His protection should be much better in 2020 with Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, and Max Scharping having had some time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Although people probably don’t realize it, Randall Cobb is still only 29 heading into his 10th NFL training camp and will just turn 30 in August.
He is also coming off of a much better season with Dallas than anyone probably knows, catching 55 passes and setting a career mark with 15.1 yards per reception.
Brandin Cooks, who has been traded more than any player I can recall in the NFL, has dynamic speed and has been a 1,000-yard receiver for three different NFL clubs before the age of 26.
Cooks, along with Will Fuller (who will hopefully stay healthy), gives the Texans a dynamic pair of outside receivers with big-time speed.
The combination of David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr. is perhaps the best duo of pass-catching backs in the entire NFL.
These Texans need to stay healthy and many of their critical players have proven an inability to do so in recent years, but what if it all comes together in 2020? It’s hard to argue against this team being a potential contender in the AFC especially as close as they were last year to beating Kansas City on the road in the playoffs.
Even though De’Andre Hopkins getting shipped out via trade is a huge black eye on the 2020 offseason for Houston, it’s possible this team may have actually put together a really good group of players with more potential as a sum of all the parts than we could initially see.