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15 Most Impactful Texans of 2023 No. 4 Jonathan Greenard

The Houston Texans had an extremely successful 2023 campaign.

They cruised to a 10-7 record under new head coach DeMeco Ryans and captured several accolades along the way. They won the AFC South and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2019 season. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud won PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, rookie edge rusher Will Anderson won PFWA’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, and even Ryans took home hardware with PFWA’s Coach of the Year.

With a revamped team effort that led to dramatic improvements compared to both the 2021 and 2022 Texans, it’s worth examining who created that impact this past season and what their future projects moving forward.

This series has taken a look at defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, running back Devin Singletary, rookie receiver Tank Dell, and veteran tackle George Fant, and upstart linebacker Blake Cashman.

Entering the top 10, we took a closer look at cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Christian Harris, and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and budding shutdown cornerback Derek Stingley

Entering the top five, third year wideout Nico Collins received due praise for his breakout year. Now, fourth year standout Jonathan Greenard and his lethal impact on the edge enters at No. 4.

Background

(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Jonathan Greenard entered 2023 as one of the most tenured Texans on the roster.

He was selected as a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by then general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien. Since then, it had been a relatively bump road for the University of Florida product with plenty of ups and downs.

Greenard barely played during his rookie season under a coaching staff that did not lean on rookies. He broke out in a small way in 2021 under defensive coordinator Lovie Smith with 8 sacks in 12 games. Unfortunately, his 2022 season when Smith was elevated to head coach was a complete disappointment. He had only played in 8 games and started just 4 prior to the arrival of new head coach DeMeco Ryans.

Entering training camp, Greenard was expected to start opposite of hopeful franchise edge rusher Will Anderson following a huge trade in the 2023 NFL Draft. He would also mix in with veteran Jerry Hughes on passing downs off the edge. Many were hopeful Greenard could stay healthy and be more productive under Ryan’s attacking front.

2023 Performance

(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

If 2021 had been a mini-breakout for Greenard, 2023 served as a genuine breakout.

The fourth-year edge rusher had 12.5 sacks and 52 total tackles alongside 15 tackles for loss while starting 15 games for the Texans. He displayed the run dominance that had been present through most of his career with a new added blend of violence and finishing on the edge that led to a career high in sacks.

Bernard was a huge reason the Texans were one of the NFL’s premier run defenses. Will Anderson served as the best run stopping edge duo in football. There weren’t many sacks early in the season, but Greenard converted at a high rate and ended up leading the team in sacks despite trailing Anderson’s 64 pressures with 59 of his own.

By the end of the year, Greenard had established himself as one of the premier players on Houston’s defense and a player set up extremely well for a pay day this off-season.

2024 Projection

HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 01: Jonathan Greenard #52 of the Houston Texans reacts after a sack against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of the game at NRG Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 01: Jonathan Greenard #52 of the Houston Texans reacts after a sack against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of the game at NRG Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Jonathan Greenard is an unrestricted free agent entering the 2024 off-season and is set to reap the benefits of a career year.

He’ll be one of the most valued edge rushers on the open market this spring and it could very well lead to a salary north of $17 million per year. It’s a deserved pay day and one may raise questions with his future with the Houston Texans.

The team will certainly be interested in bringing Grenard back into the fold, but now they’ll have to wait and see what that cost will be. There are certainly possible futures where Greenard becomes too expensive to retain if another NFL team decides they want to make him the premier edge rusher for their team.

If Houston is unable to re-sign Greenard, expect them to invest heavily at defensive tackle and defensive enduring free agency to try to replace his production. If he is back, Anderson and Greenard will be expected to play as one of the top edge duos in the NFL during a hopeful Super Bowl run in 2024.

Until then, it’s up to the agents.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire