On Friday, the Houston Texans gave their Season Ticket Members an exclusive interview with Chairman and C.E.O. Cal McNair, Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Jack Easterby.
Marc Vandermeer, Voice of the Houston Texans, conducted a roundtable session which began with McNair and then became a 2-on-1 with O'Brien and Easterby.
A number of topics were discussed, giving Season Ticket Members an inside look at the team's offseason moves, how it conducts business in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and what their expectations are for 2020. Here are some of the highlights:
Free Agency, Roster Moves
-O'Brien addressed the first wave of free agency additions of wide receiver Randall Cobb, safeties Eric Murray and Jaylen Watkins.
-The Texans also placed a priority on re-signing a number of their own players before free agency hit, including Bradley Roby, Ka'imi Fairbairn, Dylan Cole and others. He explained that the team also had conversations with D.J. Reader before the defensive lineman ultimately agreed to terms with Cincinnati.
"I think we've done a great job with that of keeping guys on board," O'Brien said. "There are certain guys that we just we just couldn't do it financially and we would have loved to keep on board. D.J. Reader - We would have loved to keep D.J. Reader. We had good conversations with him and his representatives, but at the end of the day, we couldn't get that one done. So that's going to happen every single year."
-O'Brien discussed the trade of 27-year-old All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and All-Pro running back David Johnson.
"I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team," O'Brien said. "DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player here. He made so many plays for us. We love DeAndre Hopkins, but he had three years left on a deal and he wanted a raise and we weren't going to be able to go in that direction."
Johnson, who led the NFL in 2016 with 2,118 scrimmage yards for the Cardinals, will be in the mix to start at running back with the departure of Carlos Hyde and Lamar Miller in free agency. The Texans also received the 40th overall pick from Arizona, who finished with a 5-10-1 record.
"We felt like we had a great offer from Arizona that involved picks, that involved an excellent three-down running back who is hungry and humble and just can't wait to get started," O'Brien said. "David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team. There's a lot of things that go into trades, a lot of thoughts to go in."
COVID-19 effects on the NFL
-With COVID-19 crisis, NFL teams are working from home like everyone else. That includes the front office, football operations, business operations and even players.
"We've been home sheltering in place, as you will," McNair said. "But been on the phone several times a day with both the business side and the football side, keeping everybody on track and in the right direction. It's going to be an exciting year for the Texans, even though things are different. We're going to put together a great team and have a great season. So it's still exciting and we will work through this and we'll work through it together."
-McNair shared his thoughts from this week's annual league meeting, originally cancelled, that took place via conference call where owners voted on several key topics including an expanded postseason structure to include 14 playoff teams.
"We had a really interesting owner meeting earlier this week," McNair said. "We had it by conference call, the first time that's ever been done. So there's a lot of firsts and it was really interesting. There's a limited amount that we can accomplish and what we weren't able to cover this meeting, we will cover more in May. In May, those things will be more rules changes. I know the fans will be interested in what we do with the review process and trying to make that better."
-O'Brien praised the McNairs for their message to the organization that nobody would be laid off during the COVID-19 crisis.
"They said from Day One, all of the employees are going to be paid like nobody's going to be laid off," O'Brien said. "And, you know, that includes everybody. That includes people that work downstairs, people that work in our cafeteria, people that work in our training room, our weight room, our equipment, our video room, our salary cap room, our analytics room. I mean, I just think that says a lot about the McNairs."
Building a 2020 roster
-O'Brien emphasized the team's ultimate goal of winning a championship involves surrounding Deshaun Watson with dependable, tough, smart players and building a team for the future. However, there is still more work to be done.
"We're not trying to win March," O'Brien said. "We're trying to win in January and we feel like these moves put us in a position where we're incomplete right now. We're not where we want to be, but it's April, it's not November. We're trying to set our team up depth-wise, talent-wise. Everything that we do to be able to win in January."
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