What could the Texans have been had they re-signed Kareem Jackson?

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Mark Lane
·2 min read
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The Houston Texans had a difficult decision to make in 2019. Former 2010 first-round pick Kareem Jackson was set to hit the free agent market, and he was getting up there in years at 31 years old. Even though Jackson was a staple in the locker room and embraced the organization, the risk was the Texans would hold on to a player after his usefulness on the field.

The Texans also had safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was completing his one-year deal in Houston. As it turned out, general manager Brian Gaine re-signed neither to complement Justin Reid, a third-round rookie who had a breakout season in 2018.

Instead, the Texans signed Tashaun Gipson, who had recently been with the Jacksonville Jaguars and a was a Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. After the 2019 season, the Texans signed former Kansas City Chiefs and Browns safety Eric Murray before they cut Gipson.

Reid has been a leader on and off the field for the Texans, but finding an effective counterpart has been a challenge for the organization.

What if the Texans kept Jackson in 2019 rather than let him go? According to Pro Football Focus, the Denver Broncos are the only NFL team since 2019 with two top-5 graded safeties, using their metrics. Jackson’s counterpart in Denver is Justin Simmons, who is set to hit free agency this offseason.

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Jackson has provided the Broncos with 115 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, three interceptions, 14 pass breakups, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and a return touchdown in 29 games, all of which he has started.

The Texans were already experimenting with Jackson as a safety in his final year in Houston, a necessity borne out of Andre Hal’s sudden lymphoma diagnosis that summer. The former cornerback was already transitioning to playing in the middle.

Houston made the decision to go younger, but it didn’t pay off.