Texans have decisions to make in secondary entering free agency

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.


Under contract for 2017: Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson, Eddie Pleasant, Andre Hal, Lonnie Ballentine, Robert Nelson, Kurtis Drummond, Denzel Rice, KJ Dillon, Corey Moore.

Free agents: A.J. Bouye, Quintin Demps, Don Jones.

How they fared in 2016: The Texans’ secondary finished the regular season ranked second in passing defense, allowing just 202 yards per game. They dealt with quite a few injuries during the season, especially at cornerback. Joseph and Jackson missed time, and Johnson, the Texans’ 2015 first-round pick, suffered a broken foot in Houston’s Week 6 victory and was put on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

With Johnson missing the majority of the season, Nelson filled in well in four-corner packages. Demps and Hal provided consistency at safety, with Demps having one of the best seasons of his career with six interceptions and 55 tackles.

Position outlook: The Texans have two key free agents in the secondary: Bouye and Demps. The Texans are working to get a deal done with Bouye, but he will command a lot of interest from other teams and be offered a huge contract that Houston may not be able to match given their salary-cap space. Other teams interested include the division rival Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as the Eagles, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.

The Texans have three other cornerbacks under contract in Joseph, Jackson and Johnson, and so while Bouye would be greatly missed if he signs elsewhere, they do have good depth at the position. The 2017 NFL draft has a strong cornerback class, and the Texans could replace Bouye in that way, too.

Demps has played the past two seasons in Houston on one-year deals, and he should get a multiyear deal this offseason. The Texans don't have that much depth at safety, and he would be a big loss if he leaves. If he does, Pleasant could start in his place.

Level of need (low, medium or high): Medium

By the numbers

4: Consecutive games Demps had an interception in. He also had an interception in five out of six games, which was the most in the NFL during that span. His six interceptions led the team.

4: Texans players in the secondary who spent time on injured reserve last season, the most from one group on the team.