Amidst the endless Deshaun Watson-centric headlines, it's easy to forget there are other players whose futures with the Houston Texans are in question this offseason.
As such, here is a look at every impending free agent and our take on who should or should not be retained. ... with Monday news on one transaction already ...
A.J. McCarron, QB (UFA)
Depends on his salary and the eventual situation surrounding starter Deshaun Watson. If Watson leaves, McCarron knows the system and should absolutely be kept. If Watson remains, McCarron should be kept on a similar one-year deal to that of 2020.
Will Fuller, WR (UFA)
The Texans intend on keeping Fuller either by re-signing him or using the franchise tag. Deserves to get paid after a career year in 2020.
READ MORE: Texans Will Use Franchise Tag To Keep Fuller
Pharaoh Brown, TE (ERFA)
Had a career year in 2020 with some excellent yardage attained after the run with his bulldozer-esque style. Ultimately is third in the depth chart.
Dontrell Hilliard, RB (RFA)
Made two appearances last season with some decent kick returns. Bring back to battle for a depth spot. (Indeed, NFL Network is reporting that Hilliard has been re-signed on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million, with $200,000 guaranteed.)
Buddy Howell, RB (RFA)
Solid backup option and special teamer. Another training camp decision.
Roderick Johnson, OT (UFA)
Did well in the absences of Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. Deserves to remain as a backup.
Brent Qvale, OL (UFA)
Made three starts and performed well at guard. Deserves another shot to battle at training camp.
P.J. Hall, DT (RFA)
Injury cut short his first year in Houston but he showed flashes of promise while healthy. Texans are lacking in experience on the defensive line and as such should keep a hold of those with knowledge.
Auzoyah Alufohai, DT (ERFA)
Broke through towards the tail end of the season from the practice squad. Young and showed signs of what he is capable of, and deserves to fight for a backup spot from Week 1.
Carlos Watkins, DE (UFA)
Had a career year in 2020 during which he made 11 starts for two sacks, 27 combined tackles and three defended passes. With J.J. Watt now gone, Watkins' experience is essential.
Dylan Cole, LB (UFA)
Has proven to be a strong backup and special teamer since his arrival in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. However, injuries continue to hamper his progress and limited him to just six appearances in 2020, the least of his NFL career. His health will be the deciding factor.
Tyrell Adams, LB (UFA)
2020 was a disappointing year for most on this Texans defense, with Adams one of the few bright spots. After Benardrick McKinney was placed on injured reserve, Adams took over and subsequently started 12 games finishing the year with 125 combined tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Has shown he deserves a shot at a starting spot, therefore, the future of McKinney will be key to where Adams lands.
Kyle Emanuel, LB (UFA)
Made seven appearances for the Texans last season due to mounting injuries on defense. Could be a practice squad conender.
Brennan Scarlett, OLB (UFA)
Struggled early in the season but began to improve, just before he landed on injured reserve. Did little to prove he can be a starter moving forward, as such should be a special team contender at most.
Gareon Conley, CB (UFA)
Did not play all season thanks to injury. Texans simply need to move on at the position and freshen up their options.
Vernon Hargreaves, CB (UFA)
It was another mixed bag from Hargreaves who played well on occasion but didn't show the consistency of a starter. Would be a decent backup.
Phillip Gaines, CB (UFA)
Another poor season from Gaines; as mentioned earlier, Texans need new options at the position.
Cornell Armstrong, CB (RFA)
Primarily a special teamer, Armstrong could be another special teams/practice squad option at most.
Michael Thomas, S (UFA)
A special teamer and captain, Thomas did well when called upon defensively. Deserves to be brought back for depth.
A.J. Moore, S (RFA)
Had a disappointing season after a promising training camp in 2020. A solid backup option but will have to earn his spot back.
Jon Weeks, LS (UFA)
Veteran and longest-tenured Texan who hasn't missed a game during his 11 seasons in Houston. Should be retained.