The Houston Texans have undergone several big changes this offseason, particularly at the wide receiver position. Houston sent star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in a trade that was widely panned. The Texans signed former Packers and Cowboys wideout Randall Cobb to a multi-year deal to be their slot receiver. And they traded yet another draft pick to the Rams in exchange for Brandin Cooks.
With all that maneuvering, there are two incumbent wideouts who look like the odd men out, according to Aaron Reiss, the Texans beat writer for The Athletic. Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee are candidates to be traded (Stills) or released (Coutee) between now and the beginning of next season, Reiss reports.
Coutee appeared to fall out of favor with head coach Bill O'Brien last season, but Stills was heavily involved in the offense throughout the year. However, after trading for Cooks and signing Cobb, much of what Stills can do has been replicated on the roster. As Reiss notes, the team also still has Will Fuller on the roster, which means that there are two vertical threats and a slot man, leaving Stills as the odd man out due to his age (28), contract situation (heading into the final year of his deal, which contains a $7 million cap hit but no dead money charge if he's traded or cut), and relative lack of upside (compared to Fuller and Cooks).
Still, it seems odd to trade away Deshaun Watson's No. 1 target in exchange for a running back who was largely ineffective last season, then also eat into the depth that would be necessary to replace that receiver. Considering the injury issues Cooks and Fuller have dealt with throughout their respective careers, it would at the very least be smart for the Texans to keep Stills around merely as insurance so that they do not end up without a vertical threat at some point next year. Stills has also displayed the versatility to play in the slot, which means he could also replace Cobb if he were to go down with an injury.
Coutee is a different story simply because he is a pure slot man and appears to be out of favor with the coaching staff, but with an injury-prone top trio like the Texans have, moving on from a wideout who has shown at least some promise in the past is puzzling. But then, that's par for the course for the Texans with O'Brien at the helm.