The Houston Texans had money to spend in the 2019 free agency period. They also had a need at safety after watching Tyrann Mattieu, Kareem Jackson and Andre Hal (retirement) leave the team.
Fortunately, one of the best safeties of the decade, Earl Thomas, became available. Quarterback Deshaun Watson took notice of that, as the two share the same agent, suggested to Bill O’Brien that the team sign the Texas native with a Hall of Fame resumé.
O’Brien didn’t seem too interested.
On a call with Thomas, O’Brien questioned the safety’s will to still to play football.
“He was at the rodeo at the time,” Thomas told Dan Pompei of The Athletic. “Our conversation was not what I thought it was going to be. It was him not believing I still wanted to play football.”
It wasn’t as if O’Brien didn’t have some questions about Thomas. After all, the Super Bowl champion safety broke his left leg in Week 4 of the 2018 season. It was the second time in the past three seasons that his season had ended with a broken leg. Signing Thomas to the Texans would mean spending some of the offseason rehabilitating the injury while the 30-year-old integrated with the team.
Eventually, Thomas signed with the Baltimore Ravens to the tune of $55 million over four years. The Texans chose the affordable Tashaun Gipson, who signed a three-year, $22.5 million deal, shortly after they lost out on retaining Mathieu, who signed a three-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.