Texans should re-sign Brandon Weeden, spend on targets

Gordon McGuinness previews the biggest free agent decisions for the Houston Texans, including who to re-sign, let walk, and pursue.

| 8 months ago
(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Texans should re-sign Brandon Weeden, spend on targets

Few expected the Houston Texans to win the AFC South, especially with such an unsettled quarterback position. However, with several stars on both sides of the ball—most notably, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt—and the struggles of their divisional rivals, Houston was able to get it done. They may have been outclassed by the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, but it was still a successful season for the team under new head coach Bill O’Brien. The task is now to build upon that this offseason, starting with free agency.

Here’s a look at what moves the Houston front office should make next month:


G Brandon Brooks

Brooks wasn’t great in 2015 (66.7 overall grade), but he wasn’t terrible, either. He had our 11th-highest pass-blocking grade among guards, with his run-blocking bringing his overall grade down. While he did struggle in that regard, he had the third- and fourth-highest run blocking grades in 2013 and 2014, respectively, so 2015 can easily be looked at as a blip. We have Brooks as the fourth-best guard available in free agency, and the Texans would be wise to keep him around.

OLB John Simon

Simon (75.1) is a restricted free agent, so the odds on him returning are high, but it’s worth pointing out that he has grown into a solid No. 3 outside linebacker since arriving in Houston. With six sacks, seven hits, and 14 hurries, he was solid as a pass-rusher in 2015, and has stood out against the run in each of the past two seasons.

QB Brandon Weeden

Re-signing Brandon Weeden (70.9) probably wasn’t what anyone expected the Texans to be even considering when they brought him in mid-season, but he makes sense as a low-cost option at the position. He is not, and in all likelihood never will be, the player some hoped for when the Cleveland Browns drafted him in the first round back in 2012, but he did run the Texans’ offense solidly in limited work, and could step in if Brian Hoyer struggles again.

Let walk

P Shane Lechler

With a lack of key free agents, the decision of what to do on special teams is one of the biggest that the Texans face. Gone are the days where Lechler was one of the best punters in the league. In 2015, he was our fifth-lowest graded player at the position, with the highest percentage of punts returned, at 63.2 percent. It’s time for a change from the multi-time Pro Bowler, and thankfully this year sees a nice group of free agent punters from which to find a replacement.


TE Zach Miller

An upgrade at tight end makes a lot of sense, and Miller (81.0) is a cost-effective option who had a really productive season after not seeing a regular season snap since 2011. A solid blocker and receiver, he showed an impressive pair of hands with no drops from the 34 catchable passes thrown his way, racking up 439 yards, scoring five touchdowns, and forcing 11 missed tackles.

P Marquette King

If picking up a player after leaving Oakland worked well before, going back to the well again wouldn’t be a bad idea. King was our 10th highest graded punter in 2015, and has steadily improved in the past three seasons. King saw 20 of his punts land inside the 20-yard line, the second-most in the league behind only Rams P Johnny Hekker. King is a player on the rise, and signing him has the potential to have the Texans set at the position for the next five years.

WR Rishard Matthews

With DeAndre Hopkins as their No. 1 receiver, and Jaelen Strong as someone who can develop and make a big impact, finding a receiver to be a solid No. 2 option would help out the Texans’ offense. Rishard Matthews (79.4) can be that guy, and probably doesn’t come at a high cost. Matthews has been a solid receiver throughout his four-year career in Miami, occasionally flashing a little more than that, but never struggling to the point that it causes concern. He dropped six passes from 49 catchable targets in 2015, but just three from 64 in the previous three seasons.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Texans finished the season ranked 2nd in defensive scoring efficiency but were 28th offensively so you don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out which side of the ball they need to focus on. Re-signing Weedon is a sensible move as management no doubt remembers what happened just a few years ago when they were forced to play a third string QB because of injuries at the position.

  • Tim Edell

    The Chicago Tribune reporterd Miller would be seeking 4-5 million a year which as Bear fan made me turn off the Super Bowl Shuffle. As well as he played down the stretch this is a guy who saw his first action in 4 years and is on the wrong side of 30.

    • crosseyedlemon

      You would think a guy would be willing to accept less to put some distant between himself and Jay Cutler.

  • Southern Strategery

    Dump Lechler?! Further proof PFF can’t see the forest for the trees. Obsessing about the number of punts returns amounts to a set of blinders.

    If you had watched this team throughout the season, Gordon, poor overall ST play along with the lack of an effective gunner was the reason why the Texans had so many punts returned. Lechler had the league’s 2nd highest average (47.3) so he still has the leg at 39.

    A complete critique would have noted Houston ranked 28th in net punt yards, again a reflection of not very special teams. The dismissal of position coach Bob Ligashesky would have also been pertinent to your analysis.

    Lechler grew up and still lives within an hour’s drive of NRG Stadium. His cap hit ranked 13th in 2015 and will likely take a below-market deal to stay in Texas if he wants to continue his possible Hall-of-Fame career.

    I won’t take the time to poke holes in your plea to keep Simon, a solid but non-athletic contributor. His inability to handle the edge on stretch running plays is reason enough to let him walk.