AFC South: Houston Texans

PHOENIX -- Houston Texans owner Bob McNair wasn't surprised Andre Johnson bristled at the idea of a reduced role next season. It's just human nature, McNair told me this week at the league's owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.

"Every athlete I think would like to play forever," McNair said when I asked if he was surprised to hear Johnson felt even before last season that he would be gone from the Texans after 2014. "They never want to acknowledge that they’ve lost a step or they can’t quite do what they did before. Just look at history. Look at all the players. It just happens time and time again. We don’t like to acknowledge that we’re getting older. None of us do. That’s just human nature, and I don’t think that’s going to change. ... They’re used to being a star and they’d like to continue being a star. I don’t blame 'em, I understand that."

Until now, there hasn't really been a public acknowledgment by the organization of the belief that Johnson had lost a step. When asked about Johnson several times since, Texans coach Bill O'Brien has repeated the refrain of how much respect he has for Johnson.

Johnson was granted permission to seek a trade earlier this month after being told the Texans planned to reduce his role significantly this season. They simply no longer believed he was a starter. When no trade options materialized, Johnson requested a release and was granted it. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent.

Though I didn't quite phrase the question this way, McNair disagreed with any characterization that the Texans did anything other than honor Johnson's wishes this offseason.

"No, he had the opportunity to stay, but his role was changing," McNair said. "As a player gets older, that’s what happens. He wasn’t interested in the role that he thought was available and he wanted to pursue a role with another team so we honored his request."

Though the end was ugly for the Texans and Johnson, he's still the most iconic offensive player the franchise has ever had.

"I think when he’s ready to retire, we would love to honor him and give him an adequate ceremony recognizing what he’s done," McNair said. "And we’ll look forward to that."

PHOENIX -- The Houston Texans re-signed inside linebacker Akeem Dent to a two-year deal Tuesday.

Dent came to the Texans in June from Atlanta in the T.J. Yates trade. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that limited him last season, when he had 38 tackles and a sack. Dent eventually became a starter next to Brian Cushing.

The deal is reportedly worth $4.5 million, with $2 million guaranteed.

The Texans' defensive starting group currently includes ends J.J. Watt and Jared Crick, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, inside linebackers Cushing and Dent, outside linebackers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, corners Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson and safeties Rahim Moore and D.J. Swearinger.

What's astounding about that group is it includes seven former first-round picks -- five of them in the front seven.

The Texans are still looking for an interior pass rusher, one who could pressure the quarterback on third downs, and some safety depth.

PHOENIX -- When it comes to defensive tackle Louis Nix, Bill O'Brien's words aren't plentiful, but they're pointed.

During today's coaches' breakfast at the NFL league meetings, the Houston Texans coach addressed a variety of topics for his hour-long session.

Asked for an update on outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, guard Xavier Su'a-Filo and Nix, three 2014 draft picks who didn't play much last season for various reasons. He mentioned being pleased with Clowney's progress and work ethic. He called Su'a-Filo a hard worker who's in the office rehabbing every day O'Brien is. On Nix he said this:

"I have not seen Louis Nix," O'Brien said. "I don't know. He’s working out somewhere in Florida I guess. Haven’t seen him. But that’s their prerogative, so don’t read anything into that. When they show back up here for the offseason program, especially the younger players, the younger players need to be ready to roll. So hopefully he’s ready to go."

I asked what he needs to see change from last season in Nix.

"I would say the ability to make it through a practice," O'Brien said. "That would be the biggest thing I need to see."

This isn't the first time O'Brien has revealed some of his frustration with Nix's development. During the season he cited Nix's need to learn how to be a professional. To that end, Nix will have a great resource in the recently signed Vince Wilfork. O'Brien hopes he uses it.

"If you're a young player in that defensive line room and you've got J.J. Watt and Vince Wilfork in that room, you'd be crazy not to kind of follow those guys around," O'Brien said. "Now you don't have to try and be like them, but I think you'd be nuts if you didn't use those guys as examples. You've got the best defensive player in the league, and then you've got this guy who's going to go down as one of the best interior linemen to ever play the game, and you're a first or second-year player in that room. You're not going to follow that example?

"It's going to be a great opportunity for Louis Nix."

PHOENIX -- For nearly the entire time Bob McNair has owned the Houston Texans, they've been looking for a long-term solution at quarterback.

"What we have done is we've said we wanted to strengthen ourselves at the quarterback position so we could get consistent play," McNair said. "We're not saying we have to have a star performer at that position, we just want to get consistent performers and I think we are in a position to do that."

[+] EnlargeBob McNair
Bob Levey/Getty Images"We're not saying we have to have a star performer at that position, we just want to get consistent performers and I think we are in a position to do that," Texans owner Bob McNair said of the quarterback position.

They'll attempt to do that through the competition between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback role. McNair believes the winner of that competition will give the Texans consistency they need.

"I think so," McNair said. "We don't know who will come out on top. It's open, they know it. They both have talent. We know more about Hoyer than we do about Mallett because Mallett hasn't had a chance to play. We'll let em compete and we'll be a better team as a result of it."

And with a consistent player at quarterback, McNair believes the Texans can win a Super Bowl.

"Teams have done that," he said. "Look at Baltimore back in 2000. They had an outstanding defense. They could run the ball and they had a quarterback that didn't turn it over that much. I think that is a plan that can bring you great success. Look what we did last year playing four quarterbacks. We didn't have that consistent play at quarterback and yet look how close we came. We've improved our defense this year."

The Ravens' model is one that a lot of teams point to when they don't have a star quarterback. Since Trent Dilfer's Super Bowl triumph, here's the list of Super-Bowl winning quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Brad Johnson, Peyton and Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson. They aren't all elite quarterbacks, but most are.

That the Texans have searched for that elusive player so long tells McNair something else.

"It shows you how difficult it is to get a good quarterback," he said. "No. 1, I mean how many good ones have come along in the last 10 years. No. 2, when they came along were you in a position in the draft to draft any of them. Unfortunately when we had a no. 1 draft pick, there wasn't an Andrew Luck out there. A lot of that's pure luck."

PHOENIX -- Houston Texans owner Bob McNair brings a unique perspective to the NFL's committee for Los Angeles opportunities.

The first failed bid to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles lost to McNair when the league instead formed the expansion Texans.

"I understand what they’re going through," McNair said. "I’m familiar with the market. I know what a burden it is and how difficult it is to bring all the people together to have the opportunity to construct a first-class stadium, and that’s not easy."

What did he learn about the market that’s helpful now?

"I could see that the market there is more fragmented," McNair said. "Los Angeles does not cover all of southern California, it covers a small area. And then you’ve got Pasadena and you’ve got Industry and Carson and on and on with those other cities scattered around. In terms of getting any type of public support, it was difficult for anyone trying to get a stadium at that point in time to get all those different communities together."

What's helping the current push to move a team to Los Angeles is the fact that the stadiums will not be mostly publicly funded.

"I think what’s happened is we’ve learned through the use of [personal seat licenses] you can raise a lot more money than we ever expected," McNair said. "That can be used to help finance the stadium. It sort of supplants the public funds that would have been put up. It’s just economically not feasible for the owner to put up 100 percent of the money.

"... That’s how we sold the project in Houston, it was sort of user pay. The hotel occupancy tax, well football draws a lot of people in. The rental car tax, people from out of town come in, they rent cars. It’s not property taxes that were supporting it. With PSLs it’s a way for the fans to make an investment in the stadium. Colleges have been doing this for years. If you want to get a good seat at a Texas A&M game or a University of Texas game, it depends on how much money you give the school. And it’s a lot more, frankly, than what people pay for PSLs. They’re doing it every year, whereas with a PSL it’s a one-time purchase."

PHOENIX -- The carousel of available football players doesn't often include those of Hall of Fame caliber. So Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn't anticipate he'd have the opportunity to reunite with Andre Johnson in the NFL.

"Yeah, we were surprised, but anything can happen in the National Football League," said Pagano, who recruited Johnson to the University of Miami more than a decade and a half ago. "I just feel fortunate that we were able to get him."

I caught up with Pagano at the Arizona Biltmore, the site of this year's owners meetings, in which owners, head coaches and general managers gather to discuss league issues.

The departure of a franchise icon wasn't specific to the Texans. The Colts also released Reggie Wayne this offseason, Johnson's friend and college teammate. Wayne had spent the entirety of his 14-year career with the Colts since being drafted in 2001.

Releasing Wayne left a hole in the Colts locker room, especially with their young talented receivers like fourth-year player TY Hilton. It's a role Pagano hopes Johnson can fill.

"I don't know if you can ever replace 87, matter of fact I know you can't replace guys like that, so you try to find somebody that can become like that guy," Pagano said. "That mentor, that leader in that room, that brings that veteran presence, veteran leadership into that room to help the young guys. TY (Hilton) naturally going into his fourth year is going to have to assume some of that stuff. He's got to grow into that role. Obviously having a guy like Andre that's played 12 years is going to be a huge help as far as that's concerned."

When Johnson announced his decision to become an Indianapolis Colt, become part of the Texans' biggest rival, he did so with a photograph of him with Pagano.

"It's extremely exciting," Pagano said. "I mean, No. 1, we're getting a really good football player obviously. Having the relationship that I have with him, going all the way back to high school, recruiting him out of Miami High, knowing his family, knowing the type of man he is, the type of character he has, all that stuff comes into play. I think it's cool. It's really cool for us to be back together again. Reunited."

PHOENIX -- When the Houston Texans signed Vince Wilfork to a two-year deal last week, the assumption was the Texans' interest came from the organization's ties to the New England Patriots organization, where both Bill O'Brien and Romeo Crennel were once coordinators.

Those ties are very real. Here at the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, Patriots reporter Mike Reiss spotted O'Brien catching up with some old friends from New England, and talked with Texans owner Bob McNair about the connections.

On Wilfork in particular, though, the Texans' interest predates O'Brien's arrival.

“I wanted to sign him two or three years ago, when he was a free agent," McNair said. "I was all for it then, but we weren’t able to do that. I didn’t have a chance to meet him because I was going in and out of town during that period of time, but I know enough about him to know what kind of guy he is and we’re delighted to have him."

Wilfork last was set to become a free agent in 2010, but the New England Patriots placed the franchise tag on him to restrict his movement in free agency. Signing Wilfork despite his tag would have cost the Texans two first-round picks -- likely a prohibitive cost. So while the reality of signing Wilfork back then was likely low, the interest was there.

Free-agency review: Texans

March, 17, 2015
Mar 17

Most significant addition: When the rumblings began that the Houston Texans wanted quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, not one or the other, it seemed both strange and unlikely they'd be able to get both. But after a (probably unnecessarily) drawn-out process with both players, the Texans got their men. It sets up a competition at the most important position on the roster -- a competition that will play out during the team's offseason workouts and training camp. Both players have upside, both players have familiarity with the system and both players believe in themselves as starters.

Most significant loss: Andre Johnson. At the current moment, Johnson is the greatest Texan in franchise history. For all but one year of its existence, this franchise has been about Johnson catching passes from whatever quarterback the Texans were trying to make work at the time. As it often is, the end was ugly. Johnson was told he'd no longer be a starter and he went public with it. Then he signed with the one team that's been a thorn for the Texans, the team he spent 12 seasons trying to topple. The Texans released Johnson, at his request, and he is now an Indianapolis Colt.

Biggest surprise: I'm sticking with Johnson here. My biggest surprise of the past week was that the Texans and Johnson didn't work something out, which is what I expected. In retrospect the way it ended makes sense, but the fact that Johnson would be gone -- not remain with the team on some sort of restructured deal -- surprised me. I thought both sides would have reasons to want to make it work.

What's next: With nose tackle Vince Wilfork and receiver Cecil Shorts in the fold, the Texans have touched on most of their needs. What they haven't will likely be addressed in the draft. Despite the signing of Shorts, I can see the Texans looking for a receiver early. They'll also need to resolve inside linebacker.

Update, 3 p.m. ET: The Houston Texans and free-agent wide receiver Cecil Shorts have agreed to a two-year deal, a source told ESPN's Adam Caplan. Shorts joins a receiving corps that currently includes DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, DeVier Posey, Damaris Johnson, Alan Bonner, Jace Davis, EZ Nwachukwu and Travis Labhart.

HOUSTON -- The Texans are visiting with former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts on Monday, a source confirmed, and as he does, let's take a look at what you should know about Shorts.

Having attended Division III Mount Union (which also produced Pierre Garcon), Shorts went largely unnoticed coming out of college. A contributing factor was that Shorts suffered an injury during an East-West Shrine Game practice that year, reducing his opportunity to be seen. The Jaguars' regime at the time was delighted that injury kept him hidden and drafted him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He began his career with Blaine Gabbert as his quarterback, which isn't ideal for any receiver.

Shorts is talented and has the potential to be a very good receiver for a team. The one issue with him is potentially a big one: he's got a long injury history. I checked in with our Jaguars reporter, Mike DiRocco, and he offered this on Shorts:

Shorts has been productive when he has been healthy, catching 176 passes for 2,343 yards and 12 touchdowns in four seasons with the Jaguars. His best season came in 2012 when he caught 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns.

However, he’s had problems staying healthy. He has missed 14 games in his career because of a concussion and groin and hamstring injuries. He ended the 2012 and 2013 seasons on injured reserve and he missed three of the Jaguars’ first five games this season because of a hamstring injury. That capped a stretch in which he missed eight of a possible 24 games because of injuries. He missed six games as a rookie with hamstring injuries.

The 2014 season was supposed to be Shorts’ contract year but turned out to be a disappointment. He did lead the Jaguars in receptions but he had a critical fumble in the first game against Tennessee and two bad drops in the first game against Houston. Shorts never emerged as the team’s No. 1 receiver despite being the only player on the roster to enter the 2014 season with more than 32 career catches and finished with 53 catches for 577 yards and one touchdown. The receptions and yardage were the fewest he’s had since he caught two passes for 30 yards as a rookie.

HOUSTON -- When he was introduced for the first time as a Houston Texans safety Thursday, Rahim Moore admitted retirement crossed his mind.

That was far from the worst-case scenario for the compartment syndrome that gripped his leg during the 2013 season. Some have their legs amputated from it, but Moore wouldn't let that happen. When he returned for the 2014 season, he said he felt like it was his first time playing football all over again. But Moore recovered, and simply signing his second NFL contract means a great deal to the fifth-year player.

"I’m a very thankful man to be standing," Moore said, "to be able to join this organization and to play the game of football that I love."

Moore signed a three-year deal worth $12 million after visiting with the Texans on Wednesday and dining with his future teammates and position coach that evening. Pro Football Focus had Moore rated as the second-best available safety after Devin McCourty, who re-signed with the New England Patriots.

As often happens in free agency, Moore signed on his first visit.

"When I found out the Texans wanted me, I immediately said, ‘I wanted to be a Texan,’" Moore said. "I told everyone. I was telling people I was going to be a Texan before I even came up here. I just envisioned myself in that jersey and envisioned myself playing with some of my partners on the team."

Moore has a relationship with Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson, with whom he's worked out in the offseasons, and also knows Texans safety D.J. Swearinger. Jackson and his wife joined defensive backs coach John Butler to take Moore and his wife to dinner Wednesday night. Jackson himself recently re-signed with the Texans on a four-year deal worth $34 million.

Moore talked a lot about his comfort level in Houston.

"Everybody is cool," Moore said. "Everybody is excited. I love the family-orientated [vibe] here. It’s real good. It’s very welcoming, so I’m looking forward to it."

That's important for someone who's just gone through free agency for the first time.

Moore spent four seasons with the Broncos after being drafted in the second round in 2011. Last year Moore grabbed four interceptions and forced two fumbles. Leaving Denver -- considering what he went through with his leg as a Bronco -- wasn't easy.

"I actually wanted to retire there," Moore said. "I loved it that much, but since I’ve come here I’ve realized that there is more to offer here. I realize that Denver is not the only team. Yeah, I thank them for everything they’ve done for me. I had a tremendous opportunity being there, playing with so many great players, and just experiencing the exposure, but I think since I’ve been here I have that same experience and exposure, but even better.

"You got to look towards the future, and the Texans are my future."

HOUSTON -- The fairy-tale ending is when a player spends his entire career with one organization, wins a Super Bowl and retires a legend. The ending for Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans appears it will be more Hollywood than fairy tale.

Cut by the team that drafted him, the greatest offensive player in Texans history is joining its most hated rival. That's the skeleton version of a story that's gone through so many twists in the past 12 months.

There's so much that makes this the perfect fit for Johnson. He gets to play with a young and talented quarterback -- the most talented quarterback he's had in his career. He reunites with Chuck Pagano, the Colts coach who recruited him to Miami a decade and a half ago, and running back Frank Gore, a teammate on that Miami team.

But there's so much that makes this a painful fit for the Texans organization.

This is a franchise that's lived in the shadow of the AFC South kings for so long. They've never beat the Colts in Indianapolis. They only won the division when the Colts were down, when they were rebooting their franchise with Andrew Luck. While Houston has spent its entire existence searching for a franchise quarterback, the Colts almost seamlessly transitioned from Peyton Manning to Luck.

Johnson saw his friend Reggie Wayne reap the benefits of that for his 14 seasons in Indianapolis. The Colts cutting Wayne made room for Johnson's arrival.

Now two games a year -- games that will almost certainly be prime-time features -- will be tinged with vengeance. Twice a year he can face the team that didn't think he was good enough anymore, with a chance to prove them wrong. Conversely, the Texans will have the chance to prove they were right and that their business decision was wise.

Those will be emotional games for Johnson, whether or not he admits it. He'll return to games against Houston to a fan base divided in its feelings for him. Some feel betrayed he chose Indianapolis. Some believe the Texans betrayed him. Others accept that it was time for the end between Johnson and the Texans.

One fan on Twitter quoted Batman character Harvey Dent, from the movie "The Dark Knight."

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain," Dent said in the movie.

Fairy-tale endings are rare in the NFL. This Hollywood ending might just be a little spicier, anyway.
HOUSTON -- Safety is a place where the Houston Texans need to upgrade, and to that end, they have safety Rahim Moore in Houston for a visit.

Before we get to some background on Moore, the pursuit of Moore doesn't necessarily mean the Texans are moving on from safety Kendrick Lewis. They could field both. The Texans do have interest in bringing Lewis back, but at the right price. If they signed Moore, though, it would make Lewis more expendable.

Moore, a second-round pick out of UCLA in 2011, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos. He became infamous for allowing a big touchdown catch to then-Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones in the 2012 playoffs but bounced back in a big way in 2013.

That 2013 season didn't end as planned, though. Moore couldn't finish the season due to lateral compartment syndrome in his left leg. Moore's leg has completely recovered, but it was a scary injury and he nearly lost his leg in the process. Many people with the same condition have their legs amputated.

Moore is smart, athletic, has good range and is a physical player. He works hard and as such is good in the locker room and on the practice field. He made four interceptions last season, had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, and did a good job patrolling center field. His tackling was a work in progress and he did get distracted at times looking for the big play.
HOUSTON -- The New York Jets want Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Texans have agreed upon a trade that will send Fitzpatrick from Houston to New York.

A trade will allow the Jets to simply take on the final year of Fitzpatrick's contract, rather than sign him to what would likely have to be a multiyear deal. It also will reunite Fitzpatrick with Chan Gailey, the Jets offensive coordinator. Gailey and Fitzpatrick overlapped in Buffalo from 2010 to 2012.

[+] EnlargeRyan Fitzpatrick
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsRyan Fitzpatrick is just the latest quarterback to be involved in a Texans trade.
More relevant for the Texans, though, is the fact that this trade will keep with what's become a tradition for the Texans -- getting something for an already-departing quarterback.

In the past 12 months, the Texans have traded away or for five different quarterbacks. They sent Matt Schaub to the Raiders on March 21 and T.J. Yates to Atlanta on June 19. They brought in Ryan Mallett from New England on Aug. 31 and traded Case Keenum to the Rams Tuesday. And don't forget, a trade is how Schaub came to the Texans in the first place.

More narrowly, they've managed to get something for all four of the quarterbacks they shuttled off.

The Raiders traded for Schaub at a time when just about everyone knew he was no longer wanted to be in Houston. They took on a monster contract that they then renegotiated, and hoped he'd revive his career in Oakland (he didn't). That draft pick turned into running back Alfred Blue, who became very important when the Texans were without Arian Foster at times last season.

Yates was already out the door when the Texans' phones started ringing. He'd been informed he was cut and had sent out the requisite melancholy tweet. Then the Falcons called and the Texans chose linebacker Akeem Dent off their roster. Dent became a starter for the Texans.

Keenum was expected to remain on the roster through the offseason, but his fate was shaky given the Texans were on their way to having Mallett, Brian Hoyer and 2014 draft pick Tom Savage on the roster. The Texans will get a seventh-round pick in 2016 for Keenum.

Fitzpatrick, though, was clearly gone. He started 12 games for the Texans last season, but the signings of Mallett and Hoyer (the latter should happen any moment now) displaced him. According to a source familiar with the compensation, the Texans will get a future draft pick that will be either a sixth or seventh-round pick for him, depending on certain conditions.

Free agency this year opened not with a burst of signings, but a flurry of trades involving big names. Haloti Ngata from Baltimore to Detroit. Jimmy Graham from New Orleans to Seattle. A swap of Sam Bradford and Nick Foles between the Rams and the Eagles. A trade from Fitzpatrick to the Jets won't be such a blockbuster, but it will fit the Texans' model.
Day one of free agency didn't feature any big moves by the Houston Texans, but it was an active day nonetheless. I'm still expecting changes through free agency, but more so after the initial craziness subsides.

Let's relive it, shall we?
  1. Johnson
    At some point in the day, former Texans receiver Andre Johnson (wow, that was weird to type) got on a plane and flew to Indianapolis with Frank Gore. Gore has already reached an agreement with the Colts. Johnson could follow soon, replacing his old friend Reggie Wayne, who was released by the Colts not long ago. Remember, Chuck Pagano recruited Johnson to Miami. Remember, too, that Johnson might say out loud that he has no ill will toward the Texans, but I'd bet he'd love the opportunity to see the Texans twice a year. The news sent some Texans fans into various states of panic.
  2. D.J. Swearinger's pit bull bit Jadeveon Clowney on the arm last week. The news came to light from Sports Radio 610 this morning, and I put in a couple of calls to see how big a deal this was. According to the Pearland Police Department, the injuries to Clowney were minor. A source close to Clowney corroborated that. Because it was a dog bite, though, Clowney did go to the hospital and per state law, the hospital had to call authorities to report the bite. Swearinger's dog's rabies shot is up to date until April, so Clowney is in the clear there, but they recommended a home quarantine of the dog. Would this be a story if these weren't the two players involved? Probably not. It'll have no impact on Clowney's football playing, and is far less important than updates on his knee recovery, which we last got at the combine.
  3. Ryan Mallett addressed the prospect of a quarterback competition. He's ready. And he has no doubt he can be the Texans' starter.
  4. Inside linebacker Bruce Carter is set to visit the Texans this week. He got to Tampa on Tuesday for a visit with the Buccaneers, so there's always a possibility he remains there. Carter has been a 4-3 outside linebacker recently, but before that played in a 3-4 system for the Cowboys in his first two seasons.
  5. The Brian Hoyer saga continued, with our Adams -- Caplan and Schefter -- reporting that after communicating with the Jets, Hoyer had decided to sign with the Texans. Hoyer's camp has insisted since then that his decision has not yet been made, but I'm willing to bet that has a lot to do with the league scolding teams not to complete deals before Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT, when the new league year opened. Hoyer came to Houston Tuesday night and a deal should be signed soon.
  6. The Texans extended inside linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, who was acquired during the 2013 season. He's made three starts for the Texans, tallying 31 tackles, one batted pass and half a sack. Tarpinian was a restricted free agent.
  7. The Texans tendered Case Keenum and then traded him to the St. Louis Rams for a 2016 seventh-round pick, Schefter reported. Incidentally, because of Mallett's injury, a 2016 seventh-rounder was all the Texans had to give up to the Patriots for Mallett. Now they get it back, and likely at a higher spot. I'm impressed the Texans got a return for Keenum, who they signed off the Rams' practice squad last season. The Texans do have a history lately of getting more than one might expect for quarterbacks.
  8. And, the Texans have interest in Vince Wilfork. He'd be a big solution for their need for a nose tackle.
HOUSTON -- In quick succession, we had two Case Keenum-related bits of news.

First, as reported by Mark Berman of KRIV-TV, the Houston Texans tendered Keenum, who was an exclusive rights free agent. Second, Keenum was traded to the St. Louis Rams for a seventh-round pick in 2016, as reported by ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.

The Texans liked how Keenum handled himself in the season's final two games, his first two wins starting in the NFL after having gone 0-8 in 2013. They were prepared to go to training camp with Keenum, Ryan Mallett, Tom Savage and Brian Hoyer, who is expected to sign with the Texans soon.

Instead, they got something for Keenum, who likely would have been the odd man out anyway. The seventh-round pick in 2016, is the same round and year pick Houston lost for acquiring Mallett in August, so this essentially makes up for that.

It also answers one question about the direction of the Texans' quarterback room. There are still many questions left, though, namely who the starter will be. Another big question sits with how the Texans will handle Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started more games than any other quarterback for the Texans last season. But Houston appears ready to move on from him. The Jets are a potential destination.