Since free agency opened March 11, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and getting ready for next season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2014 schedule.
So who’s gotten better? Who’s gotten worse? Let’s take a closer look.
Up today …
Opponent/location: Houston Texans/NRG Stadium.
2013 record: 2-14 (last place in AFC South).
Key additions: S Chris Clemons (Dolphins), S Kendrick Lewis (Chiefs), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Titans) and NT Jerrell Powe (Chiefs).
Key losses: DE Antonio Smith (Raiders), TE Owen Daniels (unsigned), RB Ben Tate (Browns), LB Darryl Sharpton (Redskins), LB Joe Mays (Chiefs), NT Earl Mitchell (Dolphins), G Wade Smith (unsigned), DT Terrell McClain (Cowboys), CB Brice McCain (unsigned), OT Ryan Harris (unsigned), FB Greg Jones (unsigned).
Best move: Trading quarterback Matt Schaub to the Raiders for a sixth round pick. The move gives the 32-year-old Schaub a fresh start after a horrendous 2013 and clears the way for Houston’s new head coach, Bill O’Brien, to put his stamp on the game’s most important position with the No. 1 overall pick.
The bottom line: The Texans haven’t been as active in free agency as one might expect from a team that won only two games last season.
That could be an indication that GM Rick Smith is confident his team is far closer to the 2012 version that claimed the AFC South title than the 2013 edition that lost its final 14 games.
The key to a quick turnaround in Houston, though, hinges on nailing the No. 1 overall pick, and then following it up with a handful of strong selections. In all, Texans have 11 picks after being awarded three compensatory choices last week.
Available to the Texans are any of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class—including Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. Earlier this month, Houston signed 31-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, presumably to mentor a young quarterback or perhaps bridge the gap until he’s ready. It's also possible that the Texans will take Jadeveon Clowney first overall or look to trade down, as one recent report suggests.
On defense, the Texans lost 32-year-old Antonio Smith (five sacks) but signed three players who figure to play significant roles in 2014: safeties Chris Clemons and Lewis Kendrick and nose tackle Jerrell Powe. In the end, the moves amount to minor upgrades for a unit that ranked seventh last season.
A mostly quiet offseason for the Texans will get much noisier as the draft approaches. And once the No. 1 pick is announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell, it will become much easier to assess how formidable an opponent Houston will be when the Redskins visit next fall.