Every offseason there is a specific talent every team would love to get their hands on or a specific positional group that stands out above all others. This NFL offseason was no different. The free agent running backs this offseason were guys who could easily come in and fill a void for an NFL backfield.
The Houston Texans are no exception. Their running back depth chart is thin and aging, with Lamar Miller at the top - whose contract is currently set to expire at the end of this upcoming season. It was rumored they were one of the frontrunners to land Le’Veon Bell this offseason. However, Bell landed on the New York Jets, and no other free agents came in to shake up the depth chart. So the Texans now have a few options: make a trade to boost their running back depth, draft a running back in a lackluster running back class, or stay with the running backs they currently have on their roster.
Although there are a couple running backs in this draft class who can be successful in the Texans offense, their best option is to call John Dorsey and get a deal done for one of the Browns runnings backs.
The Houston Texans own a total of seven draft picks:
First Round - 23rd Overall
Second Round - 54th Overall
Second Round - 55th Overall
Third Round - 86th Overall
Fifth Round - 161st Overall
Sixth Round - 195th Overall
Seventh Round - 220th Overall
While Bell was the biggest name of available running backs, Kareem Hunt was also available due to a turbulent in-season departure from the Kansas City Chiefs. Many expected teams to hold off on signing Hunt until the NFL handed down a suspension, but in classic Dorsey fashion, he was aggressive and signed Hunt, who he drafted while with the Chiefs. Hunt is heading into his third year in the NFL and is currently only 23 years old. He has proven he can handle a heavy workload on the ground and through the air.
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Are the Cleveland Browns even looking to trade away Hunt? We really don’t know the answer to that. However, the Texans hold two second-round picks, and with both of those later in the round, offering one would be a solid starting point. Most will say this is too steep of a price for a running back who is suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season and has some possible character issues. That may be true, but given the talent Hunt has shown on the field, the Texans would be getting him for a discount at this point of Hunt’s young career. Hunt is currently only on a one year deal and set to become a restricted free agent in 2020. The Texans can use this to their advantage and place a first or second round tender on Hunt. The Texans can decide to not match the offer Hunt receives from another team if they feel it is too steep a price. By doing this they would receive an early round draft pick as compensation and recoup the investment they put into Hunt. The 2020 draft class is expected to be quite deep at the running back position. Whether the Texans decide to retain Hunt or draft a running back from the 2020 class either would be a huge asset to the Texans offense. Even with Hunt on a one year deal and the risk that would come with trading for him, he could be the missing piece the Texans have been looking for.
If however they can not get a deal done. There is one other option in regards to the Cleveland Browns.The Texans could also trade for one of Hunt’s teammates, Duke Johnson. Johnson has shown he is capable of being very successful as a receiver and would be a good change of pace back to Miller (or even be involved in some packages where both are on the field). Although Johnson doesn’t have the amount of rushing attempts we see from other running backs around the NFL, Johnson has shown the ability to run between the tackles. More importantly he would add great pass protection for Deshaun Watson and also be a fantastic pass catcher out of the backfield.
*Courtesy of MyFantasyLeague
Johnson has recently expressed his desire to be traded, so this is a perfect opportunity for the Texans to give the Browns a call and get a feel for Johnson’s price. Miller has shown he is still capable of handling the workload, but if the Texans can get a deal done for Johnson I believe this benefits Miller tremendously. If the Texans offered their fifth or sixth round pick and D’Onta Foreman for Johnson and a future pick, it could get the deal done and help solve the running back situation in Houston.