You've heard the coaches say it – every year is different in the NFL. Teams are rebuilt every year.
The differences start with deals you make with free agents, players who move on and trades you execute as the league year gets going.
Of course, the DeAndre Hopkins trade grabbed big headlines. Plenty of cyber ink has been used on that move. We'll certainly miss seeing one of the most prolific Texans do his thing. But these things happen in professional sports and nothing is done without the goal of winning.
I'm here to write about what's next for this team as they line up in 2020, and I'm thinking that the Texans brass will look to replace Nuk's production more than the player himself. They will build with balance around their Pro Bowl quarterback.
Enter Randall Cobb, who caught 55 passes in Dallas last year. Though he was drafted in 2011, Cobb still has plenty of juice to make an impact, and in the 'spread out the production' department, he could be a good friend for Watson on third down and more. If the Texans played on Sunday, he'd be out there with Will Fuller V and Kenny Stills. Combining that talent with the rest of the potential pass catchers sounds enticing.
David Johnson, acquired in the Hopkins deal, will have a shot to rack up 1,000 yards and catch a bunch of passes. He and Duke Johnson are versatile and can cause big match-up problems in different formations.
It's nice that the team is bringing back Roderick Johnson who is not a projected starter but certainly thickens the depth at tackle along with newly signed Brent Qvale.
When you factor in the return of Darren Fells and what the rest of the tight ends can do (including Kahale Warring finally getting a chance to show his potential), it becomes a good-looking group on paper.
AJ McCarron is back as QB insurance after making a start in week 17. It'll be good to get him reps in August after he missed the 2019 preseason slate with an injury.
The biggest thing to remember about the offense (and the entire team for that matter) is that they are not done. The draft will yield some additions. The extra second rounder (40th overall). And of course there could be free agent or trade help tossed into the mix.
It's still early. The 2019 starting running backs and offensive line wasn't a glint in anyone's eyes at this point last year.
On defense, Bradley Roby is back. He, along with Gareon Conley, Lonnie Johnson, the re-signed Vernon Hargreaves III and Phillip Gaines can make noise at corner. Agreeing to sign safeties Jaylen Watkins and Eric Murray will replenish a group that was effective last year. Don't discount what these guys can do on special teams.
Tyrell Adams, who can spot start and/or do business on special teams was re-signed as well, and it's great to see the longest tenured Texan, Jon Weeks, get re-upped to long snapper.
Bill O'Brien likes the way these new and returning faces fit the mold of being dependable, tough and smart.
There's a long way to go and many more moves to make, but the league year is off and running, and the Texans are looking to reshape the roster into one that gives them a great opportunity to three-peat as division champions and advance deeper than ever in the post season.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 2/23/2021)