Well, Saturday was quite the emotional roller coaster if you’re a Houston Texans fan, as two blockbuster trades changed the landscape of the franchise for years to come.
First the news broke that former No. 1 overall draft pick and All-Pro edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney had been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for basically peanuts, and fans were ready to riot, calling for the proverbial head of head coach and presumed acting general manager Bill O’Brien.
But, then, just a few hours later, another trade happened, and suddenly there was a glimmer of light in what had quickly become a dark world for Texans fans. The team acquired a long-needed franchise left tackle, getting Laremy Tunsil from the Miami Dolphins. In addition, the Texans picked up some reliable help at receiver with Kenny Stills being part of the deal.
What the Texans gave up, essentially, was their future, sending their first-round draft picks for the next two years and a 2021 second-round draft pick to Miami as part of the trade. That means, if the Texans are going to take this franchise to the next level, it’s going to be done with the pieces they now have in place, as no young talent will be coming through the draft in the near future.
And, that might not be a bad thing. Looking at the key positions where teams desire to have franchise players in place, the Texans, at least, have much more good than bad.
Left tackle: After two seasons relying on journeymen and inexperienced players to fill in at left tackle, the Texans finally have a more than credible leader of its offensive line. Regarded as one of the best young tackles in the NFL, Tunsil immediately upgrades an O-line that allowed a league-worst 62 sacks last season.
Quarterback: In two seasons holding the reins of the Texans offense, Deshaun Watson has proven he can be the franchise quarterback that has eluded Houston’s NFL team since the inception of the team in 2002. Now, thankfully, Watson has an elite left tackle to protect his blindside and lower his risk of injury.
Edge rusher: J.J. Watt returned to top form last season after a slew of major injuries derailed his career in the two seasons prior. And when he’s in top form, they don’t get much better than Watt when it comes to rushing the passer. The Texans will just have to hope he stays healthy and that blockers don’t key on him too much without Clowney also coming off the edge.
Receiver: With his great hands and well-rounded abilities, DeAndre Hopkins is arguably the best at his position in all of football. And now he’ll have a little more help on the depth chart with the addition of Stills.
Cornerback: Johnathan Joseph is a quality cover corner, but unless he can maintain his form into his late 30s, things might be looking dim for an already thin secondary. Without high picks the next two years, the Texans won’t find their next franchise cover corner through the draft. The only other likely option would be to sacrifice even more future picks to trade for a top-notch corner to lead the secondary.
Running back: With a season-ending injury to projected starter Lamar Miller and the trade of 2017 third-round pick D’Onta Foreman, the Texans will now rely on the team of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson at running back, which will give opposing defenses little reason to respect the run game. As is the case at cornerback, the Texans’ options for finding an elite player at this position are now very limited.