Getty Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio

The Houston Texans bolstered their defensive secondary after finishing 23rd in passing yards allowed during the 2023 regular season.

They handed out $18 million worth of contracts to free agent cornerbacks Myles Bryant (1 year, $1.75 million), Lonnie Johnson Jr. (1 year, $2.5 million), C.J. Henderson (1 year, $3.25 million), Mike Ford (2 years, $4.5 million), and Jeff Okudah (1 year, $6 million).

The Texans also used one of their second-round picks in the 2024 NFL draft for 2023 Second Team All-SEC member Kamari Lassiter.

However, Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay feels these additions are insufficient. In his May 7 article, he suggested that the Texans trade for four-time Pro Bowl defensive back Marshon Lattimore in exchange for a 2025 third-round pick.

Kay patterned his trade proposal after the Miami Dolphins’ acquisition of three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey last year. He wrote, “Given Jalen Ramsey, one of the NFL’s best corners of this generation, was flipped for a third-round pick last March, a similar Day 2 pick should be enough to get the Saints to move on from their longtime starter.”

The New Orleans Saints’ decision to make Lattimore available will depend on rookie cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry’s progress during mandatory mini-camp and training camp. His improvement could have him start opposite fourth-year player Paulson Adebo, making Lattimore expendable.

Likewise, taking Lattimore off their books can reduce the Saints’ salary cap burden for 2025, which Over the Cap estimates at $84.8 million over the projected amount.

Trading for Marshon Lattimore Comes with Health and Financial Risks

GettyFour-Time Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore

Lattimore, 27, was among the best at shutting down opposing wide receivers earlier in his career. From 2017 to 2021, he had double-digit pass deflections, leading to 13 interceptions.

Therefore, it’s no surprise he earned his highest Pro Football Focus grades during that stretch. He was the 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after collecting 5 interceptions and 18 passes defended in 13 games. His impressive debut season earned him an 86.1 PFF grade.

While he hasn’t matched or surpassed that mark, Lattimore’s subsequent two highest grades came in 2021 (77.3) and 2018 (73.3).

However, he’s played only 17 games over the last two NFL seasons. Saints Wire’s Ross Jackson wrote in December 2022 that Lattimore suffered a lacerated kidney during their Week 5 game against the Seattle Seahawks. That injury sidelined the former Ohio State standout until their regular season finale versus the Carolina Panthers.

Last year, he sat out the Saints’ last seven regular-season games due to an ankle injury. He was impressive enough when he played that PFF still gave him respectable grades (64.7 in 2022, 67.4 in 2023) for those injury-shortened seasons.

Getting a player yearning to prove he’s still among the best at his position could benefit the Texans if they heed Kay’s suggestion. But while Lattimore remains a high-impact player, he will also come with an expensive price tag.

Spotrac reveals that Lattimore will count for $14.6 million against the 2024 salary cap, $31.4 million in 2025, and $28.5 million in 2026.

Over The Cap states that the Texans have $23.1 million of cap space this season. Though it’s enough to absorb Lattimore’s 2024 cap hit, they could be in some financial mess if the veteran cornerback didn’t live up to those annual values.

Other Cornerbacks Texans Can Target

GettyFormer NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore

If general manager Nick Caserio isn’t satisfied with the team’s cornerback depth chart, Lattimore isn’t their only option. There’s a handful of defensive backs who can help their cause, starting with Stephon Gilmore.

The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year lined up in 96.1 percent of the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive snaps last season, earning 68 tackles, 13 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. Spotrac estimates his market value with a $9 million annual salary, $1 million lower than his previous average value.

The Texans can also pursue Houston native and two-time All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard expressed his desire to play for the Texans in the March 20 episode of ‘The OGs’ podcast. “I would love to do that. Especially back at home, the crib,” Howard said to hosts Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller.

Furthermore, Howard was willing to take a pay cut to play for a contender like the Texans. He added, “I’d rather take a pay cut to go to a team that’s going to go further in the playoffs. I got my money and stuff like that. I’m to the point, like, ‘How much money do you really need?’”

Other high-profile free-agent cornerbacks include J.C. Jackson, Adoree’ Jackson, and Patrick Peterson.

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