One common characteristic shared by the elite teams in the NFL is that they, for the most part, constantly and consistently improve their roster throughout the years.
Not to state a blatantly obvious fact, but this is the reason for the continuous success of the NFL elite. Yes, they may have the franchise figurehead of a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, but this does not stop them from always making the effort to surround their superstars with talent nearly every single season.
In order for the Houston Texans to join this elite class of NFL franchises, or even just remain as a playoff contender, they must look ahead and begin to address the needs that may become a hindrance to them in the future.
The Texans have already begun to do this. Andre Johnson is getting older and more prone to injury, so the Texans immediately made wide receiver a need. Houston will have three young receivers—DeVier Posey, Keshawn Martin and Lestar Jean—competing for the third wideout job in training camp and preseason.
There is another future need, though, that can can become a major problem for the team if management does not take quick, precise steps to fix the issue before it even occurs.
When one brings up an issue with the Texans' secondary, it is can almost be guaranteed that it has something to do with Kareem Jackson.
Jackson, however, could very soon become the least of the Texans' worries.
The secondary right now is a strength of the Texans—and it should remain one for several seasons—but it has the potential to quickly deteriorate. Johnathan Joseph is an extremely talented cornerback, as he can be both a shutdown corner and a ball hawk. Danieal Manning is a pure playmaker who can create plays for himself on both offense and special teams.
The one common problem with these two stars of the Texans' secondary is their age, as both are nearing the age of 30. That age, feared by most NFL players, is even more likely to affect Manning than Joseph.
As a free safety, Manning is expected to and constantly puts his body on the line for the defense. He has experienced high-speed collisions many times in every single game of his career, and he does not have the size and strength of a prototypical NFL linebacker.
These collisions take a toll on Manning's body, as they do with every NFL safety, which can make it difficult for him to maintain his health and his level of production.
While playing cornerback does not wear down the body as much as playing safety does, it is not to be denied that Joseph is nearing the end of his prime. By the time his contract ends in four seasons, he will be on the wrong side of 30 and nearing the tail end of his career. It would be highly unexpected if he could continue to contribute the way he did last season at that age.
The Texans' secondary is not an issue right now, however—nor will it be for at least a few more seasons.
The Texans' organization, however, is faced with the fact that their two star defensive backs are aging and that they may not be able to produce a few years down the road. This is the issue: Should the Texans wait until the problem becomes a major problem and can limit the team's success, or should the front office begin to take steps to stem the issue and prevent it from happening?
With a lack of quality depth behind Joseph and Manning, the Texans must begin to find ways to improve their secondary in the near future if they wish to sustain the continuous success that marks an elite NFL franchise.