HOUSTON -- As free agency gets closer, here’s a look at who the Houston Texans have returning and what they might need to add this offseason at each position.
Wide receivers and tight ends
Free agents: TE Ryan Griffin
How they fared in 2016: Unlike in head coach Bill O’Brien's first two seasons with the team, the Texans involved their tight ends a lot more this past season. That can be heavily attributed to Brock Osweiler's struggles throwing downfield, which led him to making his tight ends -- especially Fiedorowicz and Griffin -- as his primary targets.
The Texans' tight end group went from being ranked No. 31 in the NFL in 2015 in receptions to second in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
This especially affected Hopkins’ season out wide. In 2015, Hopkins had a breakout season, catching 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last season, he finished with 78 receptions for 954 yards and four touchdowns.
Fuller, the Texans’ first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, started strong, registering two games of more than 100 receiving yards to open the season, before cooling off due to injuries and dropped passes. Fuller has enough speed to stretch the field, but Osweiler was unable to get him the ball often, and when he did, Fuller dropped some important passes.
Third-round pick Miller never really got started and was hurt throughout the season. He was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury in the second half but was not a big playmaker before that, either. With Fuller taking over as the starter out wide alongside Hopkins and Miller serving as the primary slot receiver, Strong was unable to make a noticeable impact during his second season.
Although Fiedorowicz and Griffin had the best seasons of their careers, the young receiving group had down years, although a lot of that was because Osweiler struggled.
Position outlook: The Texans have the pieces to have a strong receiving group, but they need to have a better quarterback throwing the ball to them.
Griffin is the lone free agent of the group. If the Texans do not re-sign him, expect them to draft a tight end or count on Anderson to have a larger role in the passing game in 2017.
O’Brien frequently said last season that rookie receivers don’t usually play for him, but he was impressed by the job that Fuller did in his rookie year. Miller should be better after having another season at receiver under his belt, having only been a receiver for two seasons after a position change from quarterback before his senior year at Ohio State.
Hopkins is in a contract season, but he and the Texans will try to sign him to a long-term extension. He didn't do himself any favors with his inconsistent 2016, but he will contest the down season was due more to who was throwing him the football. With more consistent play at quarterback in 2017, expect Hopkins' efficiency to increase.
Level of need (low, medium or high): Low
By the numbers
2: Games Hopkins had more than 100 receiving yards; he had six in 2015
100: More targets the Texans' tight ends had in 2016 than in 2015.