The Houston Texans made it public that veteran safety Andre Hal would be moving on from the game of football leaving a void in a secondary that is going through a complete overhaul for the 2019 season. Hal was able to walk away from the Texans under his own terms, and there are not many in the NFL that can accomplish what Hal did in such a short time. He beat the NFL odds as a NFL 7th round selection, made a position change from cornerback to safety, reached a second contract and was able to beat Hodgkin's lymphoma during the 2018 season to return to the field. Add in his leadership in a locker room full of personalities, Hal was one of those players that made a NFL locker room and roster better.
With his exit, it leaves the Texans in need to find a replacement for him on the football field. We take a look at how Hal’s retirement changes things for the Texans.
- Hal was the perfect third safety in Romeo Crennel’s defense, off the ball and playing deep shutting down the passing game. Hal improved as he grew in Crennel’s defense and his best trait was his ball hawking skills. Hal finished his Texans career with 12 interceptions which ranked him 4th in franchise history and since his arrival in 2014, he has led the franchise in interceptions during that stretch. Add in 31 pass deflections, Hal just had a way of finding the football. His snaps were limited but he made the most of them, and for a defense that needed to get the ball back to the defense, Hal did precisely that.
- The loss of Hal continues to shake up a secondary that has lost plenty of experience this off-season. Add Hal to the exit of Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu, and the defensive coaching staff is going to have to work overtime to get plenty of new faces acclimated to the Texans style of play in a hurry. The value of Hal and someone like Jackson, they have been around the organization long enough to understand how things operate and able to help younger players and new ones on the Texans system. With Hal gone, there is no longer that veteran voice in the safety room.
- The Texans had an idea this was coming and were preparing for it with their work heading to the NFL Draft. Under the radar, the Texans have been meeting and working out safety prospects. Prospects like Nasir Adderley (Deleware), Darnell Savage Jr. (Maryland), Juan Thornhill (Virginia), Mike Bell (Fresno State), Zedrick Woods (Ole Miss), and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Florida) all have been in contact, to this point, with the Texans. There is also a good chance there are some names that have not surfaced to this point, but it is clear the work is being put in by Texans coaches and scouts.
- The Texans had the plan of Hal being the third safety once again in 2019 with both Tashaun Gipson and Justin Reid as the primary starters. Gipson and Reid as the starters do not change, but there will be plenty on the two to make sure the safety position does not dip in production in 2019. Reid is going to be asked to be a leader in year two of the defense, and his play as a rookie warrants those expectations. The Texans have to find someone that compliments both Gipson and Reid next season but most importantly can grow with Reid for the long-term as their safety duo of the future. The Texans finally found answers for a safety group that has struggled before the 2018 season and now they have a chance to continue to find the right fit for the defense and most important Reid.
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