Heartbreaking news arrived on Sunday afternoon when Houston Texans rookie wide receiver John Metchie III announced he’s been diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) and is expected to miss the entire 2022 campaign. Everyone at The Draft Network wishes Metchie a speedy and safe recovery.
Texans General Manager Nick Caserio may search for a veteran addition via the free-agent market. Metchie was expected to play a sizable role in Houston’s new-look passing offense. He was especially going to be a factor in three-receiver sets alongside Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. This is bigger than football of course, but the Texans are expected to search for help at receiver in the wake of this unfortunate news.
The Texans lack the depth to simply plug and play a receiver in Metchie’s designated spot. Chris Moore, Phillip Dorsett, and Chris Conley don’t move the needle forward. Cooks and Collins are still expected to command boundary roles in offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s offense, but Caserio could add a veteran slot receiver. We’ve identified three free-agent slot receivers the Texans should explore signing.
The Buffalo Bills released Cole Beasley earlier this offseason, saving approximately $5.1 million against the salary cap. The 33-year-old Beasley reached the open market in mid-March and has been patient while seeking his next opportunity. The Texans may provide a starring role and a competitive salary by comparison.
The Bills were tight against the cap and Beasley’s release had little to do with his actual on-field performances. Despite his advancing age, Beasley remained one of the league’s most effective slot-only receivers in 2021. The Dallas, Texas native matched a career-high 82 receptions for 693 receiving yards and one touchdown. Playing in Buffalo’s high-octane passing offense certainly boosted Beasley’s numbers, but he still showcased the traits necessary to get open underneath the coverage.
Texans sophomore quarterback Davis Mills could utilize Beasley as a much-needed safety net. An opportunity to return home and play for a franchise in his hometown state should be appealing to Beasley. Caserio should place the phone call immediately.
T.Y. Hilton and the Indianapolis Colts seem to be playing their annual cat-and-mouse game. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard took his time before re-signing Hilton to a one-year contract last offseason. The same situation is currently ongoing. The Colts could certainly use more proven pass-catchers in their offense, but a return to Indianapolis is no longer guaranteed for Hilton, who averaged 14.4 yards per reception last season.
Hilton has played more regularly in the slot in recent years, and the Texans have an opening. Some may wonder if Hilton would consider playing for one of the Colts’ AFC South rivals, but stranger things have happened (Texans legend Andre Johnson played for the Titans and Colts!). It’s also worth acknowledging that new Texans Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton spent three seasons (2013-15) as Hilton’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis. Hilton surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in every season under Hamilton’s tutelage. Hilton’s familiarity with Hamilton as a person and coach could help convince Hilton to play for one of his former rivals.
Emmanuel Sanders is the second former Buffalo Bill to make an appearance on this list. Sanders, like Beasley, benefited from playing alongside Josh Allen last season. Sanders is a versatile receiver that can play both inside and outside, adding extra appeal to his potential candidacy. Sanders totaled a respectable 42 receptions for 626 yards and four touchdowns. Sanders also matched a career-high 14.9 yards per catch. The Bellville, Texas native can still get loose behind the defense.
A fellow Texas native, Sanders could possess an interest in playing for his hometown Texans. The 35-year-old Sanders is also the oldest receiver to make an appearance on this list, but that should do little to defer Caserio’s interest. This is a one-year rental and Sanders proved he still belongs in the league last season. Caserio signed Danny Amendola last September, who was also 35 years old at the time. Amendola remains an unrestricted free agent and is possibly viewed as an in-house option himself.
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