Texans early NFL free agency targets in 2023 offseason
The Houston Texans have been one of the NFL’s last residents in recent seasons. However, the Texans have a great opportunity to change their franchise’s fortunes this offseason.
Houston earned the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. With Davis Mills struggling last season, it seems likely the Texans will be looking to sign a new starting quarterback. The draft is ripe with QB talent this year, including Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s CJ Stroud.
However, the Texans also have over $40 million in cap space. Overall, they have the fifth-largest cap space in the entire NFL. Houston has the opportunity to land big names in free agency.
With the Texans struggling overall — 11-38-1 over the past three years — it might be tough for Houston to convince these big fish to sign with the franchise. Still, there are plenty of free agents that make sense for the Texans. As they continue to rebuild, these three players should be on Houston’s free agency wishlist immediately.
Jakobi Meyers – Wide Receiver
With the Texans likely adding a new quarterback, he’ll need consistent wide receivers to throw. Consistency has been Jakobi Meyers’ calling card during his time with the New England Patriots.
After entering the league in 2019, Meyers caught 235 passes for 2,758 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season, he set his career high with six touchdown catches. He has shone for the past three seasons, with a drop rate of just 3.1%. This ranks ninth among qualified receivers, via Pro Football Focus.
The Texans have two promising young wide receivers in Nico Collins and John Metchie III. Collins was a 2021 third-round pick while Metchie was a second-round pick. Collins struggled with injuries last season while Metchie recovers from a leukemia diagnosis. However, if both are healthy at the start of next season, they should play an important role in Houston’s reception room.
Veteran Brandin Cooks is still on the list. However, he requested a trade due to the Texans’ current rebuild.
Meyers would give Houston an audio receiver in the slot. While Collins and Metchie work on the outside, Meyers could move the chains down the middle. Meyers also has ties to Houston general manager Nick Caserio from their time in New England. Although not a WR1-type player, Meyers would be a terrific addition to the Texans offense, providing strong hands and leadership to a young wide receiving room.
Ben Powers – Guard
Houston has one of the best left tackles in the NFL in Laremy Tunsil. Opposite him is Tytus Howard, in whom Houston invested a 2019 first-round pick. However, the Texans could use a little help inside their offensive line.
The Texans offensive line finished the season ranked 26th by PFF. Additionally, PFF noted that Houston was the worst team in the NFL to generate yards before contact when running the ball, averaging just 0.8 yards. While right guard AJ Cann had a decent PFF rating of 66.6, left guard Kenyon Green (37.7) and center Scott Quessenbery (36.6) fared much worse.
Baltimore Ravens guard Ben Powers has seen massive growth in 2022. He’s started every game for the Ravens this season and played 100% of the snaps. Of those 1,096 snaps, Powers allowed only one quarterback hit and no sacks. He excelled in the passing game and he received a PFF pass blocking rating of 86.5, the second highest in the league.
The Ravens’ offseason will focus on Lamar Jackson. Whether he stays or goes, Jackson is the franchise’s top priority. Perhaps Powers could look to cash in on his big season elsewhere.
He would fill a huge hole for the Texans. Powers is only 26 and could take on a leadership role alongside Tunsil and Howard. Powers wouldn’t be a flashy signing, but for the Texans he would be absolutely smart.
Arden Key – Linebacker
The Texans’ defense has been one of the worst in the league this season. Houston ranked 30th in the league in total defense, giving up 379.5 yards per game. The Texans struggled to reach the quarterback, finishing 20th in the league with just 39 sacks.
Arden Key has been more of a situational player for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. While he appeared in all 17 regular season games, Key only started three.
Despite only playing 41% of Jacksonville snaps, Key still managed to make 4.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hits. He was second on the Jags in QB hits and third on the team in sacks.
Key has now had back-to-back strong seasons. Last year with the San Francisco 49ers, Key racked up a career-high 6.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hits, which was another career high.
Last year, Key played even less as he only participated in 35% of 49ers snaps. He never played more than 63% of the snaps in his five NFL seasons.
The Texans could give the linebacker, no pun intended, a key opportunity. Houston desperately needs to rush to the edges. Key has proven he can make a difference in short periods. With the Texans, Key would have one more opportunity. If Key could get nearly five sacks in just forty percent of snaps, what could he do in a full-time starting role?
Key is only 27 years old. As he enters his prime, the Texans could take a chance on Key and hope his success over the past two years continues to grow. If so, and if Key wins a bigger role, Houston might be in a position to land a diamond in the rough.