Coming off his best season statistically, D.J. Reader will become a free agent in March. The fourth-year defensive lineman set single-season career highs in tackles (52), tackles for loss (6), sacks (2.5) and quarterback hits (13) through 15 starts in 2019. Reader, selected in the fifth round (166th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, made the most of his opportunities, becoming a full-time starter at nose tackle by his second season.
"It feels good, playing really good ball with my guys, that's always fun just playing with my brothers," Reader said. "Trying to move forward, always progressing. If you're not progressing you're dying. I feel like I was just trying to turn forward as a player, seeing guys that came in with me, this defense, our team being better, all of us growing up. Just trying to contribute my part and I feel like I was able to do that."
Reader was also named the Texans' nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year and voted second-alternate for the 2020 Pro Bowl. According to Pro Football Focus, Reader graded out as the best among free agent interior defensive linemen last season. The 26-year-old also ranked second among all NFL nose tackles in total tackles in 2017 and appeared in all 16 games with seven starts as a rookie in 2016.
Head coach Bill O'Brien and the Texans will meet with Reader this offseason before he hits free agency.
"D.J. is definitely in that category of smart, tough, and dependable," O'Brien said Monday. "He's been a really good player for us ever since the day he walked in here. So, we're going to sit down with D.J., we're going to talk and we're going to try to do what's best for both sides. We'll see where that goes, but D.J. is just a – he's an awesome guy, a guy that has played a lot of great football for us and that's it."
The 2020 league year and free agency period begin at 3:00 p.m. CT on March 18.