The Houston Texans have been on the cusp of being a playoff team for a few years now, but have never reached that milestone. After taking a couple steps back last season with a disappointing 6-10 record, the organization is hungry for its first postseason appearance and needs to fill just a couple of positional holes to make that possible.
When Houston finished with one of the league's worst defenses and Texans head coach Gary Kubiak started taking heat, he hired Wade Phillips to coordinate the defense. Phillips will install the 3-4, which proved to be very effective with the right personnel during his stint in Dallas.
Armed with a prolific offense, the Texans would seemingly be primed for a playoff run if they were to develop a strong defense along with it.
But while Houston does seem to have a lot of players that will fit into Phillips' system, there are a few positions that need to be addressed before the Texans get over the hump. One way these needs could be taken care of is through trade.
Following are six players the Texans could conceivably trade for that would fill a big need and push Houston into the playoffs.
Note: These picks are purely speculatory and are not known possibilities.
Sources: NFL.com, ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports, New York Times NFL Blog
Now that the Packers are loaded along the defensive line, they could afford to trade Pickett away for a more pressing need, such as a running back.
The Texans, on the other hand, have Amobi Okoye slated to start at nose tackle, which is not an ideal situation. Okoye's natural size is more suited for the 4-3, and he hasn't produced to the level coaches had hoped he would by now.
Pickett would be a valuable veteran addition to a defense that sorely needs a big man in the middle. And the only reason the 6'2", 340 pound behemoth played defensive end instead of the nose in 2010 was because of rising star BJ Raji.
The Texans might be able to use a guy like Derrick Ward to bait Green Bay into such a trade.
Another veteran, current Indianapolis Colt Ken Hamlin has been in the league for nine years. He had his best season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007-08, when he posted 62 tackles, five interceptions and 15 pass deflections.
Unfortunately, Hamlin has been oft-injured and hasn't played much in the last two seasons.
However, the Texans needs safety help in a big way, and they might be able to obtain him without losing key personnel.
If Hamlin were to get healthy, he would be an effective leader on the field and would significantly improve Houston's pass defense. While he would always be an injury risk, the potential benefits could be worth a trade.
If the Texans were able to obtain someone like cornerback Jerraud Powers as insurance along with Hamlin, they would greatly improve their weakest link.
In return, Houston could offer help at linebacker, running back or even receiver for Indianapolis.
The 6'4", 350-pound Shaun Rogers was a three-time Pro-Bowler for the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns before running into recent struggles. Both injuries and trouble with the law has kept Rogers from seeing the field much lately.
Although the New Orleans Saints recently signed Rogers to a one-year deal, Houston may be wise to offer a trade for the big man.
An ideal size for nose tackle, Rogers would bring a veteran, 11-year presence to the defense along with solid run defense, another pass-rushing presence and a nasty demeanor. Although the Texans would have to deal with the injury risk and possible off-field problems, Rogers would no doubt bring the defense to a new level.
Considering the Saints have Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith and first-round draft pick Cameron Jordan along the line, they could afford to lose Rogers.
Linebacker is a possible need for New Orleans and the Texans have quite a few solid players at that position.
In a single 2011 NFL draft pick, Arizona cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went from owning the Cardinals' cornerback position to playing second fiddle.
Once-in-a-generation talent Patrick Peterson fell to the Cardinals at fifth overall, and they happily scooped up their desired first pick.
While a Peterson/Rodgers-Cromartie cornerback tandem would instantly be one of the nation's best, Arizona has some much more pressing needs—such as quarterback, just to throw one out there.
While the Cards will certainly not be keen on giving up DRC, if they aren't able to obtain a solid quarterback in free agency, the Texans could potentially use a guy like Dan Orlovsky as a trading piece.
Orlovsky is not a flashy quarterback, but he has shown himself willing and able to get the job done—especially when he has a strong receiving corps, something he would obviously have in Arizona.
DRC would give the Houston secondary a huge boost and possibly push them into the playoffs.
Seeing as we just got done talking about another Cardinal, how about an Arizona twofer?
In all reality, there's probably not much chance Houston would be able to offer the Cardinals enough to obtain both Kerry Rhodes and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
However, even if they could nab just one of them, they'd be a whole lot better off.
Rhodes had a great season for the Cardinals last year with 90 tackles and four picks, and he will be entering his seventh season in the league. He's young enough to continue a high level of production, yet old enough to be a steady presence within a shaky unit.
If the Cardinals are hesitant to let go of DRC, Kerry Rhodes would be a tremendous consolation prize.
After getting one of the steals of the 2011 NFL draft with the 19th pick, the New York Giants will have a stacked secondary—one that Houston may have a particularly keen eye on.
When Nebraska's Prince Amukamara fell to the Giants at No. 19, the organization gladly scooped up the shutdown cornerback, thus adding to a position that already boasted Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross.
Houston could potentially be interested in trading for Webster, Thomas or Ross. If that were to be the case, I would go with Webster.
The Giants would be hard pressed to give up their most productive cornerback (Thomas), and Ross is a backup (albeit a very good one who could start for a lot of other teams, including the Texans). Getting Webster, a starter with decent production in 2010, would be a happy medium.
With the addition of Amukamara, the Giants might be willing to negotiate a trade involving Webster, and if an agreement were to be reached, Webster would provide the Texans with a much-needed veteran and a great pass defender to help them get past Peyton Manning and into the playoffs.
Houston might be able to use its deep and young receiving corps to entice the Giants; New York may also be interested in bringing back Derrick Ward to stabilize a big question mark at running back.