Missing Pieces the Houston Texans Could Still Get
The time of making a big splash in free agency is over.
Even if it were not, the Houston Texans are up against the cap, and it would be extremely difficult for them to sign a big time player.
The Texans, however, still have needs that must be addressed, and there's a pool of players still available in the free-agent market that may be able to make a significant difference.
This slideshow will examine the players still unsigned that can induce a positive change on the Texans.
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With the departure of Lawrence Vickers in free agency and the news that James Casey will be playing a dual fullback/tight end role this season, the Texans depth at fullback is bleak.
The only other fullback on the roster, Jason Ford, is an undrafted free agent who may or may not be able to succeed at the NFL level.
Therefore, the Texans may find it necessary to peruse the free-agent market to see if they can find an adequate lead blocker for Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
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A former Pro Bowler in 2010, the 31-year-old fullback has been dominant lead blocker for nearly the entirety of his career. He was a major and significant contributor to Michael Turner's 1,699-yard season, as well as his 1,371-yard season.
In addition to being an incredible blocker, he's a decent receiver out of the backfield, totaling 477 yards and six touchdowns in the past six seasons.
Mughelli can become a very important and useful player on the Texans if the team decides to give him chance that he certainly deserves.
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While Ahmard Hall would not be as good as an option as Ovie Mughelli, he certainly has the talent to become a noticeable contributor for the Texans.
Hall was a significant part of Chris Johnson's 2,006-yard season in 2009, and he paved the way for the way for the majority of the speedy back's incredible career.
Although Hall is not as skilled in the blocking department as Mughelli, he's actually the better receiving threat. In six seasons, Hall garnered a total of 561 receiving yards, over 100 more than Mughelli gathered in that time span.
If the Texans do not wish to risk Mughelli's injury, then Hall could make a positive impact for the offense.
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The Texans' offense lives and breathes through the running game, and that could be scary news for the Texans in the upcoming season.
When two dependable starters, Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston, left in free agency, the Texans' offensive line took a major hit.
Now, the right side of the line will be manned by guard Antoine Caldwell and tackle Rashad Butler, players who, albeit showing potential in the past, have yet to prove themselves in the NFL.
While the Texans should not worry about their depth at guard, as they have solid depth with third-rounder Brandon Brooks being the primary backup, the tackle position may become the Achilles Heel of the offensive line.
Derek Newton and Nick Mondek, who are still considered projects, are the only viable backups behind Butler and Duane Brown, and an injury could severely damage the position.
It would be wise for the Texans to consider searching for a veteran presence in free agency who might provide quality depth at tackle.
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Despite aging, the 35-year-old tackle has no plans to retire, and he's willing to play for any team that is interested in signing him.
The tackle proved he had still had what it takes to play in the NFL, despite his advanced age, by earning a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2010. Clifton can come onto the Texans and contribute right away.
Clifton would provide a veteran presence at the tackle position, which is full of young and inexperienced players behind Duane Brown.
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Like Chad Clifton, Marc Colombo has had a long, successful career.
The 33-year-old right tackle has been a constant presence on the Cowboys' and Dolphins' offensive lines in his nine-year career, and like Clifton, can be an important teacher to the Texans' young offensive tackles.
While Clifton might be the better option for the Texans, Colombo is a close second.
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Behind Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter, the remaining wide receivers on the Texans' roster have nearly no experience in the NFL.
The main receivers competing for the third and final starting job are Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin—all players who have not played a single snap in an NFL game.
The Texans may be in need of another veteran presence in the receiving core who can help stabilize the young and inexperienced athletes at the position.
While the free-agency market is not teeming with playmakers, there are several receivers who can become positive influences on the Texans.
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The free-agent market right now does not contain many, or any for that matter, receivers who can make a distinguishable impact for any NFL team.
Mike Sims-Walker, however, could maybe be considered the best of the worst.
The receiver entering his fifth season in the NFL has not had an excellent career by any means, and he has only two seasons where he has put up respectable numbers.
In 2009, his best season in the NFL, Sims-Walker grabbed 63 receptions for 869 yards, hauling in seven touchdowns.
If the Texans do sign him, and they are interested, as they invited him to a workout on May 30, he will most likely not put up anywhere close to those numbers that he did in 2009. Any veteran receiver whom the Texans sign will most certainly not make the starting roster, as the coaching staff would like to see Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey or Keshawn Martin earn the final spot.
Sims-Walker, though, would have the opportunities to contribute off the bench, and he is an option that the Texans must consider.
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Bryant Johnson is a big, powerful receiver whose athleticism has not transferred onto field success.
Johnson has put up consistent numbers throughout the majority of his career, normally wavering around the 500-yard mark.
Johnson, however, showed that he could be an effective receiver last season with the Texans in limited playing time. His standout game came against the Titans in Week 17 when the Texans played their backups for the majority of the game, and he caught two passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
He could be an important veteran teacher for a young receiving core, and the Texans should consider bringing him back for another season.
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In the 3-4 defense that the Texans deploy, a space-eating nose tackle is always a plus.
With Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell being the primary options, however, that luxury is not one that the Texans currently enjoy. Although Cody and Mitchell do not, in any way, limit the defense's ability to perform, they also are not the reasons for the Texans' recent defensive success.
Both are under 310 pounds, and they cannot effectively fill gaps at the point of attack as well as a larger nose tackle would be able to.
The free-agent market does not contain many nose tackles, let alone bigger ones, which does not help the Texans if they are indeed looking for a large gap filler at the position.
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Kelly Gregg is your definition of big. Standing at six feet tall and weighing in at 320 pounds, Gregg can be the nose tackle whom the Texans have been waiting for.
Gregg has been a consistent player throughout his long NFL career, dating back to 1999, and he spent the majority of it with the Baltimore Ravens.
Gregg was a major factor in the Ravens' excellent rush defense, as his large size allows him to plug up gaps, creating easier paths to the ball-carrier for his fellow teammates.
If the Texans sign Gregg, he will definitely not start ahead of either Cody or Mitchell. He will, however, be given chances to contribute in goal-line or short-yardage situations.
His experience in stopping the run, as well as his freakish size, will allow him to become an important part of the Texans' defense at the nose tackle position.