If signed, how does Brandon Marshall fit into Texans puzzle?

ANALYSIS Houston Texans

With the season just a month away, it appears the Texans aren’t done adding to their roster. On Aug. 6, Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter at MMQB, reported that Houston was hosting former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall for a visit. Houston may be looking to shore up their depth by signing the veteran linebacker. But a large question remains for Houston. If Marshall is signed, how does he fit into the Texans’ plans going forward?

For those that don’t know too much about the veteran linebacker, Marshall brings with him seven years of NFL experience. Marshall played the vast majority of his career in Denver, making a name for himself as a solid linebacker, starting 63 games over the course of his career with the Broncos.

Marshall was used as a flex linebacker in Denver, meaning he moved all around the corp. He lined up inside and he lined up outside. His experience across the position group makes him a desirable target for a squad needing depth. 

Outside of their starting four, Houston has struggled to get production out of their linebacking corp. Standouts amongst their backups are Jacob Martin and Dylan Cole. Martin came to Houston last year as part of the highly publicized Jadeveon Clowney trade to Seattle. Cole has played his entire career in Houston, joining the team after going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Both have shown flashes of greatness during their time in Houston. 

Martin, who is entering his third year in the league and will most likely be remembered by fans for his performance in the first round of the playoffs last season against the Bills. The linebacker hit Buffalo quarterback, Josh Allen, twice in the win, including a critical sack. 

Cole has been a consistent contributor to the Houston defense since joining the team but has failed to generate the same level of production since his rookie season. In that first year, Cole finished the season with 32 combined tackles and four tackles for loss. Since then, he’s only had 29 combined tackles.

One of the possible reasons for Cole’s decline in production is his injury history. The past two seasons have seen Cole hit the Injured Reserve List at some point in the season. 

Other notable backups include Duke Ejiofor, who missed all of 2019 with a torn Achilles. Ejiofor was drafted by Houston in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. His first year of the team saw flashes, as he recorded a sack and nine total tackles. 

Marshall has had some injury problems in the past, most notably a knee injury that hampered him throughout the 2018 season.

Hesitation towards Marshall is understood and fair. He hasn’t played a full season since 2017. But in that year, he started all 16 games and recorded over 100 tackles. 

In 2019, Marshall failed to make a roster for the full season. He signed with the then Oakland Raiders but was cut prior to the season. He was later brought back for a short stint with the team in late Oct. but was cut just a few days later. 

All this being said, if Marshall isn’t signed by Houston, his injury history won’t be the deciding factor — his age will. 

Marshall is on the wrong side of 30 and in short NFL terms, that’s not good. If he’s brought in to Houston, it will as a training camp signee and he will need to impress the coaches to make a case for a roster spot. 

If he is signed, he will be competing against a corp that has had its second string underperform as of late. Depth is critically needed for the Texans, time will tell if Mashall emerges as a candidate to fill that depth.