Should the Texans sign Colts S Malik Hooker in free agency?

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Mark Lane
·2 min read
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The Houston Texans secondary was a big part of the problem in 2020 as the defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to compile a 109.6 passer rating, the second-highest in the NFL.

Houston produced just three interceptions all season, and one of those was the J.J. Watt pick-six from Thanksgiving at the Detroit Lions.

If the Texans are looking for help in the secondary, a hidden gem in free agency worth monitoring is Indianapolis Colts safety Malik Hooker. According to Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey, Hooker, whose 2020 season was cut short with a torn Achilles, has some strong aspects to his game despite the lack of splash statistics.

That lack of playmaking ability has been a disappointment because that’s the area of his game that impressed most coming out of Ohio State in the 2017 NFL Draft. These were the things PFF pinpointed as Hooker’s strengths in his scouting report back in 2017:

Those things all pointed to Hooker potentially becoming one of the better playmaking single-high safeties in the NFL. That showed at times in Indianapolis. The play below with Hooker as the single-high free safety is clearly a poor throw by Sam Darnold under pressure, but Hooker also took advantage of that mistake by reading where the ball was going, getting to his spot and capitalizing with an excellent return.

Linsey concludes the Las Vegas Raiders would be the best team for Hooker, and the club should try to sign him to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million because the Raiders don’t have the cap space.

Guess who else doesn’t have the salary cap space: Houston, and a prove-it deal worked out well for Tyrann Mathieu in 2018.

The problem is the Texans are still tied to Eric Murray. The former Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns safety would cost Houston $6.5 million in dead money against the salary cap if he were released. As such, the Texans are stuck Murray through the 2021 season. The only potential out would be a post-June 1 trade, and that would involve a team so hurt at safety they are willing to trade for Murray.

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