Houston Texans' 2019 free-agent signings: Gipson, Roby help replenish secondary

Tashaun Gipson agreed to terms with the Texans after spending the last three seasons in Jacksonville. Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

A breakdown of the Houston Texans' 2019 free-agent signings.

Tashaun Gipson, safety

The Texans agreed to terms with Gipson on Tuesday. Here's a closer look at the safety who spent the previous three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What it means: The Texans needed -- and still need -- to make moves in the secondary after not re-signing safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive back Kareem Jackson earlier in the week. General manager Brian Gaine made his first move of free agency by signing Gipson, who was released by the Jaguars in order to create salary-cap space. The 28-year-old started all 48 games he played for Jacksonville and had six interceptions and 16 pass breakups in that span. Gipson will play alongside 2018 third-round draft choice Justin Reid, who impressed in his rookie season. Andre Hal is expected to be the Texans' backup safety.

What's the risk: Even with good seasons from Mathieu, Jackson and Reid, the Texans allowed an average of 260 passing yards per game, which ranked 28th in the NFL. Houston needed to make improvements at safety and cornerback, and while there is still plenty of time -- and the Texans have plenty of money still available to spend in free agency -- signing Gipson to replace Mathieu is not an obvious upgrade.


Bradley Roby, CB

The Texans agreed to terms with Roby to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million on Tuesday. Here's a closer look at the cornerback who spent the previous three seasons with the Denver Broncos:

What it means: Houston continued to upgrade its secondary by signing Roby to replace Jackson, who agreed to terms with the Broncos on Monday. Houston also cut 2015 first-round pick Kevin Johnson before the start of free agency. Roby will start alongside veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph, and Aaron Colvin is expected to be Houston's slot corner. The Texans are likely not done improving at the position as they only have three cornerbacks on the roster, but that move could come in the draft rather than free agency.

What's the risk: The Texans have the money, so even at $10 million, this is a low-risk deal because it's for just one year. Roby, 26, played in 15 games last season and had 50 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles and 12 passes defensed.


Briean Boddy-Calhoun, cornerback

The Texans signed Briean Boddy-Calhoun to a one-year deal Friday. Here’s a closer look at the cornerback who spent the previous three seasons with the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: Boddy-Calhoun adds some much-needed depth at cornerback as he is just the fourth player at that position on the roster for the Texans. Last season for the Browns, Boddy-Calhoun played primarily slot corner, finishing the season with 56 tackles, a forced fumble and two passes defensed. Cornerback Aaron Colvin also has experience playing in the slot, so he and Boddy-Calhoun could be competing for playing time.

What’s the risk: The Texans went low-risk in the secondary by signing Boddy-Calhoun to a cheap one-year deal. Boddy-Calhoun started 15 games in the past two seasons for Cleveland and brings some competition to the Texans’ cornerback position, but it remains to be seen whether he will be a major contributor to Houston in 2019.


Darren Fells, TE

The Texans signed Fells to a one-year deal on March 19. Here’s a closer look at the tight end who spent the 2018 season with the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Texans like their two young tight ends, but Fells is primarily a blocker, which Houston needs. According to Pro Football Focus, Fells had a pass-blocking efficiency of 97.0 in 2018; Jordan Akins and Ryan Griffin each had a rating of 92.9 in that category. At 6-foot-7, Fells will also be a big target for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Fells was utilized as a red-zone target for Cleveland last season and caught three touchdown passes.

What’s the risk: The Texans hope Fells will bring some competition at tight end, but this is a this is another low-risk signing for Houston. Along with Griffin and Akins, the Texans have 2018 sixth-round pick Jordan Thomas on the roster. Houston likely won’t keep four tight ends.


AJ McCarron, QB

The Texans signed McCarron to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million on March 19. Here’s a closer look at the quarterback who spent the previous season with the Oakland Raiders:

What it means: Deshaun Watson was banged up last season, but was able to play through injuries and did not miss a regular-season game. That was critical for the Texans because Houston couldn’t trust his backups to fill in for an extended period of time. McCarron will be an upgrade at the position for the Texans behind Watson, who was backed up by Brandon Weeden and Joe Webb III in 2018 and Tom Savage in his rookie season in 2017.

What’s the risk: This is another low-risk signing for Houston, who brought in a serviceable backup quarterback on a cheap, one-year deal. While the Texans could have picked a quarterback later in the draft, it made more sense to find a solid option in free agency, given the other holes on the team they need to fill. McCarron, who competed for the starting job in camp last year with the Buffalo Bills before being traded, has played in 12 NFL games and has completed 64 percent of his passes for 928 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.