January 15th, 2017 at 10:35am CST by Rory Parks
The Texans will now look ahead to the 2017 campaign after last night’s season-ending loss to the Patriots, so let’s take a look at a few Houston-related notes as the club starts gearing up for another playoff run:
- Head coach Bill O’Brien said prior to last night’s game that he would return as the team’s head coach in 2017, and he adamantly reaffirmed that statement after the game was over. O’Brien said, “I’m tired of answering it. I can’t even have a sense of humor about it. I’ll be the Texans’ coach” (Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
- Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is preparing to enter his fifth-year option year at a cost of just under $8MM, but Wilson writes that, if history is any indication, the Texans will sign Hopkins to a long-term deal this offseason. Houston has a tradition of hammering out contract extensions for their best players, and despite a statistical regression from his sensational 2015 campaign, Hopkins is clearly in line for a deal that will make him one of the highest-paid wideouts in the league.
- Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com names the offensive line as the Texans’ biggest area of need, and she writes that the team will likely draft a quarterback in April and have a competition during training camp to determine the starter. The Texans have just shy of $25MM in cap space, but they do have to address the contract situations of a number of players, including Hopkins and Duane Brown, so unless they can restructure a few deals and somehow shed some of Brock Osweiler‘s salary, they will be unable to make a big splash at the quarterback position.
- Cornerback A.J. Bouye came out of virtual anonymity to become perhaps the best cornerback in the league this season, and he did so just as he is about to hit unrestricted free agency. As Wilson writes, a new contract for Bouye will be a top offseason priority for the Texans, and Bouye did say after last night’s game that he would like to be back in Houston. But the franchise tag, which is projected to be over $14MM for cornerbacks this year, will likely be unpalatable for the Texans, and Bouye’s financial opportunities elsewhere may preclude him from giving the Houston a hometown discount. PFR recently named Bouye as the eighth-best free agent in the first version of our 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- Despite dealing with some painful injuries this season, one of Bouye’s colleagues in the defensive backfield, Johnathan Joseph, missed just three games in 2016, and per Wilson, the 32-year-old plans to return for his 12th NFL season. Joseph is under contract through 2017, but considering the Texans could save $7MM by cutting him, he may be a release/restructure candidate.
- We learned earlier today that Texans DT Vince Wilfork plans to call it a career.