The Houston Texans can finally move on from their hope of adding Tony Romo to the roster after weeks of speculation about the quarterback's future. Romo agreed to become the lead NFL analyst for CBS Sports and was released by Dallas.
"Obviously, Houston was at the top of the list of teams I looked at," Romo said in a conference call Tuesday. "It was a very difficult decision. I went back and forth many times. It had nothing to do with the Texans. It had everything to do with CBS."
The Texans will now look for some clarity at the position. They were able to send Brock Osweiler's $16 million in guaranteed money to the Cleveland Browns as the new league year began, and are now left with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden on the roster.
Savage has been relatively injury-prone, although head coach Bill O'Brien likes his toughness and arm strength.
The Texans select No. 25 in the first round of the draft. The question is which quarterbacks will be available at that pick. Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina) has the complete skill-set and Deshaun Watson (Clemson) has the winning resume, but both are expected to be off the board in the first 20 selections.
The Texans have the cap space to sign a free-agent castoff like Colin Kaepernick or Jay Cutler, but neither is a fit for O'Brien's offense, especially Cutler, whose gun for hire can help a more simplified offense.
The Texans are the lone franchise in the NFL to not sign an outside free agent. They have yet to host any free agents on visits, but had one trip scheduled for offensive tackle Mike Remmers before he signed a $30 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Meanwhile, they lost top cornerback A.J. Bouye (Jacksonville Jaguars via a five-year, $67.5 million contract that included $26 million guaranteed) and starting safety Quintin Demps (Chicago Bears on a three-year, $13.5 million contract), starting outside linebacker John Simon joining the Indianapolis Colts on a three-year, $17 million deal, backup offensive guard Oday Aboushi to the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year, $975,000 contract and special-teams contributor Don Jones to the San Francisco 49ers on a two-year, $2.2 million pact.
Here is a closer look at where the Texans are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft, No. 25 overall.
2016 finish: 1st AFC South (9-7)
TOTAL OFFENSE: 314.7 (29th)
RUSHING: 116.2 (8th)
PASSING: 198.5 (29th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 301.3 (1st)
RUSHING: 99.7 (12th)
PASSING: 201.6 (2nd)
1. Quarterback: Remains the top need for a struggling offense that unloaded an ineffective Brock Osweiler and his $72 million contract in a trade to the Browns. The Texans are expected to draft a quarterback, but with Tony Romo now with CBS the veteran options are not good. For now, their top option under center is Tom Savage.
2. Defensive back: The Texans lost starters A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps during free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, respectively. Bouye emerged as a shutdown corner last season. Demps led all safeties with six interceptions. Replacing them will likely involve cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph getting healthier and likely drafting a few defensive backs.
3. Tackle: The offensive line, especially right tackle, is a vulnerable area. It's dangerously thin with Derek Newton not expected back this season after tearing both patellar tendons last season. Chris Clark was not good as his replacement. The Texans are evaluating several college tackles, including Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson and are likely to draft a tackle at some point. They could also use help at guard. Neither Xavier Su'a-Filo or Jeff Allen was particularly stout last season.
KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 3)
TE Ryan Griffin: UFA; $9M/3 yrs, $3.225M guaranteed.
P Shane Lechler: Potential UFA; $2M/1 yr, $500,000 SB.
K Nick Novak: Potential UFA; $1.115M/1 yr, $250,000 SB.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.
G Oday Aboushi: UFA Seahawks; $975K/1 yr, $80 SB.
CB A.J. Bouye: UFA Jaguars; $67.5M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$26M guaranteed.
S Quintin Demps: UFA Bears; $13.5M/3 yrs, $1M SB/$5M guaranteed..
S Don Jones: UFA 49ers; $2.2M/2 yrs, $250SB/$750M guaranteed.
QB Brock Osweiler (traded Browns).
LB John Simon: UFA Colts; $17M/3 yrs.
NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 25 overall)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Getting rid of the colossal Osweiler contract was a relief in itself but unless a veteran replacement (Tony Romo?) is found, quarterback is now the top priority again in Houston. Watson's ability to deliver in the clutch intrigues scouts but he also threw an FBS-worst 30 interceptions over the past two seasons, making him a polarizing player in the scouting community. At this point in the draft, however, general manager Rick Smith might see him as simply too talented to pass up.
Garett Bolles, T, Utah. A polarizing prospect in league circles, Bolles has a checkered past and is an older prospect who still needs plenty of strength and technique work. However, he is a fantastic athlete with the mean streak that will endear him to NFL coaches.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team's current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see NFLDraftScout.com's full mocks and ratings.
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX team insiders contributed to this article.