Texans rank 15th in spending on defense after busy offseason

The Houston Texans have made some splash signings on the defensive side of the ball during free agency.

General manager Nick Caserio dealt out the largest guaranteed deal of his tenure to Danielle Hunter and brought in linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair on a deal worth $10 million a year. However, the Texans’ defense costs $107.7 million despite the marquee signings, the 15th highest in the league, according to Spotrac.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers top the list as both defenses cost over $160 million. The Green Bay Packers’ defense, worth $133 million, ranks third.

Houston underwent a massive change in 2023 with the arrival of head coach DeMeco Ryans. His defensive background showed in the team’s transactions. Houston signed veterans Sheldon Rankins and Jimmie Ward to bolster the defense. 

However, the Texans have found starting-caliber talent in the draft over the past few years. Four key starters from a year ago played on their rookie contracts: Derek Stingley and Jalen Pitre in the secondary, Christian Harris at linebacker and Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. 

Even with the league average price tag, Houston fielded a defense thank ranked in the upper half of the league. The Texans allowed the 11th-fewest points per game at 20.7 and the 14th-fewest yards.

Houston went 10-7, won the AFC South and reached the postseason for the first time since 2019. The defense had one of its best games in the wild-card round win over the Cleveland Browns. Ryans’ unit returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the 45-14 victory.

The defense will look different next season as several players found new homes in the offseason. Jonathan Greenard and Blake Cashman went to the Minnesota Vikings, Sheldon Rankins joined the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Texans dealt defensive tackle Maliek Collins to the 49ers.

Houston’s front four has three new faces to play alongside Anderson. Hunter took less money to play for his hometown team and Denico Autry stayed in the division to play inside the two-star pass rushers. The Texans also added Mario Edwards, Tim Settle and Foley Fatukasi.

Caserio is one of the league’s most active GMs, so the defense cap number may rise. Defensive tackle remains a question mark, and the secondary added plenty of parts between former 2020 first-round picks Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson.

The reliance on inexpensive talent on rookie deals was huge to the Texans’ success in 2023. We’ll see how that pans out in 2024.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire