NFL Houston Texans

5 Houston Texans Storylines To Follow Leading Up To Free Agency

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5 Houston Texans Storylines To Follow Leading Up To Free Agency

Houston Texans NFL Free Agency
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The Houston Texans are holding the top pick in the draft this year, so naturally all the focus on their offseason has been revolving around that selection. But, they wouldn't be in that position if they didn’t have plenty of needs to fill this offseason. They can’t fix them all in the draft, so they will need to do a good job in free agency as well if they plan on climbing out of the NFL cellar next year.

Winning free agency won’t be easy for the Texans this year. Despite having one of the worst rosters in the league, they only have about $8 million to spend on the open market. That number ranks in the bottom half of the league, giving them an uphill battle to fight against better teams with more money to spend.

But, as anyone who has ever had to face a rough budget knows, an uphill fight isn’t one you necessarily can’t win. All it means is that Houston needs to be smart with how they spend their money. And, most importantly, they need to see free agency as a way of augmenting the strategy they plan to employ in the draft. The two need to work together if the Texans want to have any chance of competing next season.

Houston is likely facing a relatively long rebuilding process. They have a new coach, they will have a new quarterback and the roster needs a major overhaul. That process begins with free agency this year. This is the first chance for Bill O’Brien to make his mark on the team, to mold it into his own.

If nothing else, it is going to be an interesting offseason for the Texans this year, and these are the five storylines you should be following leading up to free agency.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Can They Keep Ben Tate?

Ben Tate Houston Texans NFL Free Agency
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In a short answer, no. Well, probably not is a better way to put it. The Texans don’t have much money to work with this offseason, and Ben Tate will likely get a big payday to switch teams and take over as someone’s top back. Look for Houston to bring in a cheaper alternative to eat up some carries and hope that Arian Foster can return to something resembling his old form.

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4. Where Does The Pass Rush Come From?

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Houston finished a pathetic 29th in the league last year with only 32 sacks as a team. For a team that runs a 3-4 scheme, that falls on the linebackers. Whitney Mercilus had a semi-respectable seven sacks, but the rest of the linebackers put up only 10 total. J.J. Watt can’t do it all, especially if he has no help behind him. Good edge pass rushers go quickly in the NFL, so unless they plan on taking Jadeveon Clowney and standing him up, they’ll need to tap the free agent market to upgrade the pass rush.

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3. What Happens At Tight End?

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Veteran tight end Owen Daniels has seen his best days in the league already, and he may or may not even be the best tight end on the team come next season. That honor could go to 5-year pro Garrett Graham, who was decently productive last year with 49 receptions and five touchdowns. Either way, if they don’t go after a true top tight end they will be hoping that one of the two can have an above average year.

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2. Do They Bring In A Veteran Quarterback?

Matt Cassel Houston Texans NFL Free Agency
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The rumors have been swirling like a hurricane that the Texans have real interest in bringing in veteran quarterback Matt Cassel. A game manager who is a good backup but a bad starter, Cassell is basically a worse version of Matt Schaub. That’s not to say he doesn't have value, especially as a plan B if Houston doesn't take a quarterback until the second or third round.

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1. What Are They Going To Do With The No. 1 Overall Pick In The Draft?

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This is the big story for the Texans this entire offseason. What they plan on doing with the top pick will trickle down and effect everything else they do, including how they approach free agency. If they’re set on taking a quarterback, then bringing in a veteran backup isn’t as important and they need to address the defense in free agency. If they want Clowney, then they need to make sure they go after an option at quarterback.