The Houston Texans find themselves in a scary place. Unfortunately, it's pretty safe to say the season is over. This team is about to endure a lot of change in the next year, and with the trade deadline looming, there are multiple players that could be moved, to help the future prospects of the Texans. So let's look at 5 moves that could possibly happen, before the trade deadline and after the season is over.
5 Trades the Houston Texans Can Make Now and in the Future
Trade Deadline TIME BOMB
The 2020 NFL trade deadline is November 3rd and as each day passes, the pressure on GMs increases exponentially. Whether it is to get a contender over the hump, a mediocre team into the playoffs, or a rebuilder more capital, phones will be ringing. So where do the Texans stand, and what should they be doing?
At 1-6 almost everyone has accepted the playoffs are a no go. Let's assume a 9-7 record gets us there, do you really feel confident in this team only losing 1 game, the rest of the way? It would take a legendary and unfathomable winning streak, that no team in NFL history has ever achieved. So let's throw being a "buyer" out the window.
This team needs talent, but they need the capital required to attain that talent, first. Without a first our second round pick in the 2021 draft, the Texans would be wise to reload the chamber. The biggest question that is at the heart of most fans right now though, is can we trust interim GM Jack Easterby.
My quick answer? No. I want Easterby fired immediately, but that's just not going to happen. Not even after the season is over, as it's reported that Easterby will resume his prior role. What was his prior role? I won't even say his title, but the man was complacent with every decision BOB made as GM, thus the man cannot be trusted to make wise football decisions, if you ask me.
That leaves us with a conundrum. Can we trust Jack to recoup fair value for our players, or should we wait until the Texans hire a real GM with real football experience? Part of me wants us to trade assets that have diminishing value, the longer we wait. That would be mainly JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus, largely in part to their age and declining level of play. However, those are the assets that could return the most value. Since the stakes are so high, we should wait to trade those two, once a real GM is in place (I get to those two potential trades later in this article).
The players we can trade right now, that also have diminishing value are Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee. Since these two players are not playing a major role on the team, and are not locked into the future of this team, they are good candidates to allow Easterby to see what he can get in return. There's not a lot of risk involved in messing up a trade with one of these two players. They won't be on the team next year, so let's see what we can get.
Stills is a free agent after this season, and the Texans essentially traded a 2nd round pick (part of the Laremy Tunsil deal) for Stills' service, so it would be nice to get something in similar value, in return. Stills is a talented WR, he is a proven veteran with a good resume of production. This year, he's been the odd man out in the WR room, delegated to WR4 and essentially an insurance policy. The Texans WRs have stayed healthy, so far, and if we were in a place for contention, I wouldn't want to trade Kenny, I love Kenny. But as I mentioned before, this season's hopes are over, so let's get whatever we can for Kenny, before we lose him for nothing.
TRADE #1 - Kenny Stills to the Cleveland Browns
The trade partners I looked at for a potential Stills trade needed to fall under two categories:
1.) A contender
2.) In need of a WR
I initially looked at the Packers, but their offense is humming along just fine, and Rodgers has always elevated the weapons around him. Then I looked at Baltimore, but with them bringing in Dez Bryant, he can potentially fill their WR need.
Finally I found the Browns, and this decision was definitely sparked by their unfortunate loss of Odell Beckham Jr, for the season. I hope he has a successful recovery and also hope that the Texans can capitalize on the situation. The Browns, sitting at 5-2 and 6th in the AFC, are in playoff contention. However, losing a star WR can be extremely detrimental to an offense and while there isn't another star they can easily find, this could finally be Kenny's time to shine.
He's always had the talent, and balled out when called upon, but Stills has never been more than a WR2 throughout his career. Pairing him up with Jarvis Landry could help alleviate some of the losses from OBJ, giving the Browns a solid deep threat and someone who can bring those big plays you got from Odell.
In terms of compensation, I would love to get a 3rd round pick for Stills, I think he's that good, but because he is a free agent after this season, I can't see him netting more than a 4th. It'll be interesting to see how desperate the Browns will be to replace OBJ, but spending a 4th round pick to keep their playoff hopes alive could be very well worth it. The Browns also have the most cap space in the league, and if Baker and Kenny create a connection, they can afford to resign the talented WR for the future.
TRADE #2 - Keke Coutee to the San Francisco 49ers
The Texans aren't done trading WRs, as they unload a once promising prospect, in exchange for another. The 49ers have recently made WR Dante Pettis available in trade talks, and I hope the Texans jump on this opportunity. Pettis was a 2018 2nd round pick, who drew rave reviews from scouts. I've watched 10 games of his myself, and love what he could bring to the Texans.
He's a solid deep threat (4.53 40 yard dash) who wins with deceptive routes. His ability to separate from a defender is what really intrigues me, and he's run some of the nastiest routes I've ever seen. He's a really fluid mover, who knows how to use his own leverage to trick CBs. Often times Texans WRs have struggled with beating man coverage and Pettis will be certainly helpful in this regard. Pettis' athleticism also spawns YAC ability, something that we've struggled with for years as well. He's also versatile enough to line up in the slot, or outside, a skillset we love in our WRs and will help the new regime be more flexible.
49er fans will probably tell you that his inconsistency is maddening. I would have to agree. Some stretches during games he'll look like a standout WR2, and others you're wondering whether he was even on the field or not.
Sound familiar? That's almost exactly how I would describe Keke Coutee. Flashes of brilliance, particular over the middle of the field and picking up YAC on some explosive plays. But then he'll piss you off with a crucial drop, or game changing fumble.
WRs success depends on situation so much, and I really believe that it will help both players careers to look for a change of scenery. Keke, while promising, isn't getting a chance to prove himself with the Texans, they seem done with him. We're also not going to get much more capital in return than a 6th or 7th round pick, as Coutee hasn't exactly accumulated a good resume worth of production. Taking a shot on another promising young WR is the most we can get out of Coutee, at this point.
Those are the two trades that I could realistically see happening before the trade deadline and ones that I PRAY Easterby can execute. I don't want to have to trust him to call the shots, he's showed me nothing that inspires confidence. However, much like we were stuck with BOB and forced to try and see his vision, we are stuck with Easterby for the rest of the season. Hopefully he is being advised by others who have legitimate football knowledge.
While those first two trades would be solid moves around the margins, the next three trades are going to take more negotiation and thus the Texans would be wise to wait for the new GM, to execute.
Trade #3 JJ Watt to the Green Bay Packers
There's been a lot of talk about a potential J.J. trade and while I don't think Cal McNair will end up allowing it to happen, this isn't a prediction, rather what they SHOULD do. The criteria for a Watt trade candidate is as follows:
1.) Contender to allow Watt to stay competitive
2.) Have a need on defense
3.) Somewhere he wants to go
1 and 3 sort of go together, but for us to pull off a devastating trade that will likely piss off a large proportion of the fan base, we need to be putting JJ in a position that he is happy with. That's going to help the fans feel better about the trade, as the emotional connection we've built with Watt, will have us feeling happy that he's escaped the grasp of this dumpster fire of a franchise.
James (IAmYoungarigold) wrote an article about all of the aspects of a potential Watt trade, and I will make you go check out his article on the site, to get a full analysis on what this trade would entail.
All I'll say is that I do think we need to trade JJ. Even though he is still an elite pass rusher, his age and injury history makes him less valuable to a team that is going through a mini-rebuild. His value is only going to go down with time, so it would be wisest to try and maximize it as soon as possible. As much as it would suck to not see JJ retire as a Texan, we would be doing him an even bigger disservice, by forcing him to deal with this current dumpster fire.
Trade #4 Whitney Mercilus to the Seattle Seahawks
Mercilus has not been playing up to his 54 million dollar contract. I hope you can agree with me on that simple fact. I wish it wasn't the case, I like Whitney the person (how couldn't you) but we shouldn't be paying players to be nice people, to be locker room leaders, and for team chemistry.
Finding a trade partner for Mercilus will be tougher than JJ. With his play dropping off, and his large contract extending to 2024, the suitors will be few. One team that sparks my interest is Seattle. Their offense is operating at an all time high, but their poor defense could be the difference between another Super Bowl, or not. They need help on the edge and after already trying a former Texans OLB, they could look to double down.
Time and time again we've seen the Seahawks be aggressive, looking to make moves that will put them over the top. They've already spent draft capital on Jamal Adams, getting another proven veteran to help lead the defense and make it good enough to support Russ should be something they look into. I just hope John Schneider and Pete Carroll value their locker room as much as BOB did.
I pray that the new GM can negotiate the Seahawks (or anyone) into attaining a 4th round pick for Mercilus' services. I highly doubt this will be the case, and would genuinely settle for receiving a 6th round pick, just to get off his contract. But the new GM can pull a few cards:
- New situation into a winning franchise sparks Merc
- Better scheme fit going from 3-4 -> 4-3
- Mercilus' contract can be void after 2022 season with 3m dead cap
I would hope Easterby could use these aspects to his advantage, but my trust in him is minimal. Let's hope whoever Cal hires can use the few advantages in Merc's wheelhouse to get a late round pick in return, and we don't have to actually attach a pick to get off Merc's contract, a la Brock Osweiler.
Trade #5 Benardrick McKinney and Lonnie Johnson to the New York Jets
This last trade is the most "out there" one yet, but it could end up being the most beneficial. McKinney is another player who's play has dropped off, while retaining an expensive contract. After signing Zach Cunningham to a long term extension, we just cannot be paying two MLBs this much money. The hard part is who is going to value a 2 down LB like B Mack?
The Jets take on B Mack here, but it's more about getting Lonnie Johnson in return. Yes, it's too early to move on from Lonnie, in my opinion, but the other half of this trade could make it worth it. In return, I project that the Texans could manage to steal Quinnen Williams from the Jets. We would have to tag on a 4th round pick, either the one we got from the Browns for Kenny Stills, or the one we got from the Seahawks for Whitney Mercilus.
Losing a promising young talent like Lonnie could hurt the future potential of the defense, but he's one of the few trade chips we have, and he hasn't exactly blossomed into the impact defender that we dreamed of. The Jets could have a better plan for Lonnie, whether that's putting him back at CB, or making him the safety partner of Marcus Maye, to help replace Jamal Adams.
They've put Quinnen Williams on the trading block, and I genuinely don't get why. When I scouted him, the dude POPPED off the tape, he was consistently the best player on Alabama's vaunted defense, and has the ability to wreck an offense like Aaron Donald can.
He's super strong, plays with good leverage, has very advanced hand technique, and a physical mentality that you love to have in the trenches. He was projected as one of the next freakish, three down interior defensive linemen, with the mix of athleticism and technique that only the elite players harness. Williams can be a complete game changer for a defense, but he hasn't been able to find that with the Jets. They hurt young talent, look at Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson and many others.
Hopefully the Texans can tap into that potential, and add some much needed talent to a porous defensive line. Imagine having Quinnen, Blacklock, Greenard and Jacob Martin... I like that. If the new GM could pull off B Mack, Lonnie and a 4th for Quinnen Williams, you'll see me go ALL-CAPS mode on Twitter. It's a bit hopeful, but hey, it is the Jets we're talking about, and we deserve to be on the good end of a trade, for once.
Overall, the Texans are in a grim spot, but hope should not be lost. If the Texans can hire the right people, there are plenty of moves that can be made, that can accelerate the Texans rebuild, and put us back into contention. Deshaun Watson is the future, and we can't continue to waste away his career, he does not deserve that.