Bill O'Brien says Texans' preseason trades 'paid off' despite divisional round exit

The Houston Texans didn't not hire a general manager for 2019, making head coach Bill O'Brien the driving force behind all the trades that left the franchise with just six draft picks heading into 2020 (not including the compensatory picks they are expected to receive). 

Houston acquired running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr., tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills and cornerback Gareon Conley in a flurry of moves to compete for a Super Bowl. They also traded three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for linebackers Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo and a 2020 third-round pick, not exactly the capital a team would expect for one of the game's best pass rushers. 

The end result for the Texans was a 10-6 record and a trip to the AFC divisional playoffs. Houston won one fewer game in the regular season than in 2018 (11) and advanced to one more round than the previous year, when the Texans were eliminated in the AFC wild card round. Houston made those moves to compete for a Super Bowl, but fell two wins short of that goal. 

"I think that those moves did pay off," O'Brien said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "Those guys came in, without mentioning each guy specifically, but I do believe that those guys came in and really entered into our culture of what we're trying to do, learned the systems, tried to go out there and those guys played well. I'm sure there's always plays that each one of them wish they could have back, but I think that those guys helped our team win this year, when we won.

"I think any move we make, we try to think about the long term. Now, you could probably pick and choose some moves where maybe contractually it doesn't seem like it's long term, but within the building and within the meeting rooms, we think about it more for long-term purposes as we move forward here. I think all those guys came in and contributed."

The players Houston acquired had success in their first season with the team. Tunsil made the Pro Bowl, Hyde had a career high in rushing yards with 1,070, Johnson had 820 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns and Stills was a valuable No. 3 wide receiver with 561 yards and four touchdowns (14.0 yards per catch). Martin even had 3.5 sacks while playing just 20.52% of the snaps and Mingo was a key contributor on special teams. Conley had 11 passes defensed in eight games (six starts at outside corner). 

The Texans parted ways with two first-round picks and a second-round pick for Stills and Tunsil, guard Martinas Rankin for Hyde, a fourth-round pick for Johnson, and a third-round pick for Conley. The only draft compensation Houston received was the third-round pick for Clowney and the fourth-round pick in the trade with the Miami Dolphins for Stills and Tunsil. 

Houston has a second-round pick (57th overall), third-round pick (90th overall), two fourth-round picks (one from Miami), a fifth-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. 

O'Brien doesn't believe they could've reached the divisional round of the playoffs without all the moves the franchise made. In his eyes, the trades were worth it. 

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