In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.
1. Each team roster will consist of the following:
Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C
Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S
Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner
Coach - 1 Head Coach
2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.
3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.
4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.
5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.
6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!
Houston Texans All-Time Team
First Season: 2002
Record: 139-182 (43.30 W-L%)
Playoff Record: 4-6
Super Bowls Won: 0
Passing Leader: Matt Schaub 1,951/3,020 | 23,221 Yds | 124 TD
Rushing Leader: Arian Foster 1,454 Att | 6,472 Yds | 54 TD
Receiving Leader: Andre Johnson 1,012 Rec | 13,597 Yds | 64 TD
Sack Leader: J.J. Watt 101 Sk
Interception Leader: Johnathan Joseph 17 Int
Scoring Leader: Kris Brown 767 Points
Winningest Coach: Gary Kubiak 61-64
QB: Matt Schaub (2007-2013)
Record: 46-42 | 64.6 Cmp% | 23,221 Yds | 124 TD | 78 Int | 229 Rush Yds | 4 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp 2009 (396) | Led League in Yds 2009 (4,770) | Led League in Yds/Game 2009 (298.1) | 2x Pro-Bowl (09, 12)
Deshaun Watson was on his way to claiming this spot, but I'm still going with Matt Schaub. Schaub led the Texans for seven seasons, where he had four winning seasons as a starter. Schaub had over 4,000 yards passing, and 20 touchdowns three times and his best season came in 2009 when he led the league in yards with 4,770 and had 29 touchdowns. Schaub is currently the franchise record holder in all major passing categories. He was also voted to the Pro-Bowl in 2009 and 2012.
David Carr (2002-2006) | Record: 22-53 | 60 Cmp% | 13,391 Yds | 59 TD | 65 Int | 1,235 Rush Yds | 8 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 2006 (68.3%)
Deshaun Watson (2017-2020) | Record: 28-25 | 67.8 Cmp% | 14,530 Yds | 104 TD | 36 Int | 1,677 Rush Yds | 17 Rush TD | Led League in Yds 2020 (4,823) | Led League in Yds/Att 2020 (8.9) | 3x Pro-Bowl (18, 19, 20)
RB: Arian Foster (2009-2015)
4.5 Yds/Att | 6,472 Yds | 54 TD | 249 Rec | 2,268 Rec Yds | 14 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 2010 (1,616) | Led League in TD 2010 and 2012 (16, 15) | Led League in Yds/Game 2010 (101) | Led League in YScm 2020 (2,220) | Led League in RRTD 2010 and 2012 (18, 17) | 4x Pro-Bowl (10, 11, 12, 14) | 1x All-Pro (10)
Arian Foster is one of the greatest undrafted players ever. He had a rather short career, but boy was it dominant. Foster had four seasons where he was healthy and the primary running back for the Texans. In all of those four seasons he went over 1,000 yards and had at least eight touchdowns. He led the league in rushing yards in 2010 with 1,616 and led the league in touchdowns in 2010 and 2012 with 16 and 15 respectively. Foster also led the league in yards from scrimmage in 2010 with an absurd 2,220 yards. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 and named to the All-Pro Team in 2010.
RB: Domanick Williams (2003-2005)
4.1 Yds/Att | 3,195 Yds | 23 TD | 154 Rec | 1,276 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD
Domanick Williams (formerly Domanick Davis) was the first great running back for the Houston Texans. He only played three seasons due to a career ending knee injury, but still managed to rush for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. His best season came in 2004, where he rushed for 1,188 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Vonta Leach (2006-2010) | 2 Rush TD | 71 Rec | 518 Rec Yds | 4 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (10) | 1x All-Pro (10)
Lamar Miller (2016-2018) | 4.1 Yds/Att | 2,934 Yds | 13 TD | 92 Rec | 678 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (18)
WR: Andre Johnson (2003-2014)
1,012 Rec | 13,597 Yds | 64 TD | Led League in Rec 2006 and 2008 (103, 115) | Led League in Yds 2008 and 2009 (1,575, 1,569) | Led League in Yds/Game 2007, 2009 and 2010 (94.6, 98.1, 93.5) | Led League in Yds/Touch 2006, 2008 and 2009 (11, 13.7, 15.3) | 7x Pro-Bowl (04, 06, 08, 09, 10, 12, 14) | 2x All-Pro (08, 09)
I fully expect Andre Johnson to be the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame who spent the majority of their career with the Houston Texans. Johnson was one of the best receivers in the NFL for over a decade. He over 1,000 yards receiving seven times and led the league in receptions and yards twice each. Johnson also led the league in yards per game and yards per touch three times each. He obviously holds all the franchise records in receiving. Johnson currently ranks 11th in both receptions and yards in NFL History. He was voted to seven Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins (2013-2019)
632 Rec | 8,602 Yds | 54 TD | Led League in TD 2017 (13) | 4x Pro-Bowl (15, 17, 18, 19) | 3x All-Pro (17, 18, 19)
DeAndre Hopkins was well on his way to potentially beating Andre Johnson's franchise records before he was traded before the 2020 season. Hopkins is second behind Johnson in every major receiving category in franchise history and was the main target for seven seasons in Houston. Hopkins had six seasons of at least 1,000 yards and three seasons of at least ten touchdowns. He led the league in touchdowns in 2017 with 13 and was voted to four Pro-Bowls and three All-Pro Teams.
WR: Kevin Walter (2006-2012)
326 Rec | 4,083 Yds | 24 TD
After Johnson and Hopkins, there is a bit of a drop off at the receiver position, but Kevin Walter is the clear choice for the third receiver. He was never voted to the Pro-Bowl or the All-Pro Team, but he was a great complimentary receiver to Johnson for his whole career. He had at least 500 yards receiving in all but one season and went over 800 yards twice. His best season came in 2008 when he had 899 yards and 8 touchdowns.
TE: Owen Daniels (2006-2013)
385 Rec | 4,617 Yds | 29 TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (08, 12)
There's only one tight end worth mentioning for the All-Time Texans. Owen Daniels is first among tight ends in every receiving category in franchise history. He had over 500 yards receiving in five different seasons and at least two touchdowns in all eight seasons. His best season in yards came in 2008 when he had 862 and he had 6 touchdowns in 2012. Daniels was voted to the Pro-Bowl in 2008 and 2012.
OT: Duane Brown (2008-2017)
Started 133 of 133 Games | 4x Pro-Bowl (12, 13, 14, 17) | 1x All-Pro (12)
First up on offensive line for the Houston Texans in Duane Brown. Brown started over 130 games in Houston, including starting all 16 games in five seasons. He was voted to four Pro-Bowls throughout his time in Houston and also voted to the All-Pro Team in 2012.
OT: Eric Winston (2006-2011)
Started 87 of 92 Games
This spot could end up being taken by Laremy Tunsil, but since Tunsil has only played in two seasons with Houston, I'm going with Eric Winston. Winston started in just under 90 games with the Texans, including starting all 16 games in all but one season.
Laremy Tunsil (2019-Present) | Started 33 of 33 Games | 2x Pro-Bowl (19, 20)
OG: Chester Pitts (2002-2009)
Started 114 of 114 Games
First up at offensive guard is Chester Pitts. Pitts never made a Pro-Bowl or an All-Pro Team, but he was a solid starter for Houston for eight seasons. He started all 16 games in seven seasons and is one of only a few players in franchise history to play in over 100 games.
OG: Wade Smith (2010-2013)
Started 64 of 64 Games | 1x Pro-Bowl (12)
The next offensive guard is Wade Smith. He only played from 2010-2013, but he started in every game during that four-year stretch. He was also voted to the Pro-Bowl in 2012, the same year the Texans made it to the playoffs.
C: Chris Myers (2008-2014)
Started 112 of 112 Games | 2x Pro-Bowl (11, 12)
Chris Myers was a great center for the Texans for seven seasons. He didn't miss a single game during those seven seasons, starting 112 of 112 games. He was also voted to two straight Pro-Bowls from 2011-2012.
Steve McKinney (2002-2007) | Started 73 of 83 Games
DE: J.J. Watt (2011-2020)
2 Int | 25 FF | 16 FR | 101 Sk | 531 Tackles | 172 TFL | Led League in FF 2018 (7) | Led League in Sk 2012 and 2015 (20.5, 17.5) | Led League in TFL 2012, 2014 and 2015 (39, 29, 29) | 5x Pro-Bowl (12, 13, 14, 15, 18) | 5x All-Pro (12, 13, 14, 15, 18) | 2012, 2014 and 2015 Defensive Player of the Year | 2014 Bert Bell | 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team
The greatest player to ever wear a Texans uniform is hands down J.J. Watt. He's the franchise record holder in sacks with 101 and he twice led the league in the category. Watt had at least 10 sacks in five seasons and had over 20 sacks twice. He led the league in forced fumbles in 2018 and also led the league in tackles for loss three different times. Watt was named to five Pro-Bowls and five All-Pro Teams during his time with Houston and the only thing that was able to stop him was injury. It's a shame he wasn't able to stay healthy for all 10 seasons. Watt was also named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, 2014 and 2015 and named to the Hall of Fame All-2010s Team. He will certainly be a first ballot Hall of Famer once he retires.
DE: Mario Williams (2006-2011)
11 FF | 3 FR | 53 Sk | 241 Tackles | 64 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (08, 09)
Mario Williams is somewhat overlooked, but he had a solid six year stretch with the Texans from 2006-2011. He sacked the quarterback just over 50 times and was named to the Pro-Bowls in 2008 and 2009. Twice he had at least 10 sacks, including 14 in 2007.
Antonio Smith (2009-2013, 2016) | 7 FF | 3 FR | 27.5 Sk | 161 Tackles | 38 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (11)
DT: Amobi Okoye (2007-2010)
2 FF | 2 FR | 11 Sk | 138 Tackles | 20 TFL
Defensive tackle isn't a great position for the Texans as they don't have any players who have made a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team, but they have some solid players, starting with Amobi Okoye. Okoye spent four seasons in Houston and racked up 11 sacks and over 100 tackles. His best season was in 2007 where he had 5.5 sacks and five tackles for loss.
DT: Seth Payne (2002-2006)
2 FF | 9 Sk | 196 Tackles | 20 TFL
The next defensive tackle for the All-Time Texans is Seth Payne. Payne spent five seasons in Houston and just under 200 tackles and 20 tackles for loss. His best season was 2005 where he had four sacks and six tackles for loss.
LB: Brian Cushing (2009-2017)
8 Int | 9 FF | 13.5 Sk | 664 Tackles | 42 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (09) | 2009 Defensive Rookie of the Year
The Texans have three solid starters at linebacker. First up is the franchise record holder in tackles, Brian Cushing. Cushing played in Houston for nine seasons and had over 600 tackles and eight interceptions. He had at least 100 tackles in three different seasons and was also voted the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year. He made his lone Pro-Bowl in that same 2009 season.
LB: DeMeco Ryans (2006-2011)
2 Int | 6 FF | 8 FR | 8.5 Sk | 636 Tackles | 43 TFL | Led League in Solo Tackles 2006 (126) | 2x Pro-Bowl (07, 09) | 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year
DeMeco Ryans was the first solid linebacker the Texans ever had. He played in six seasons from 2006-2011 and also racked up over 600 tackles. Ryans had over 100 tackles in his first four seasons in Houston, including leading the league in solo tackles in 2006 with 126. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in 2007 and 2009 and named the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year.
LB: Whitney Mercilus (2012-2021)
2 Int | 13 FF | 9 FR | 54 Sk | 345 Tackles | 68 TFL
You might be surprised to not see Jadeveon Clowney in this spot, but Mercilus was a very good linebacker in Houston for 10 seasons. Mercilus never made a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team, but he has over 50 sacks and 68 tackles for loss. He had at least four sacks in every season and even had 12 sacks in 2015. He gets the edge over Clowney, who made three Pro-Bowls, due to his solid play for over a decade.
Jadeveon Clowney (2014-2018) | 4 FF | 6 FR | 29 Sk | 205 Tackles | 64 TFL | 3x Pro-Bowl (16, 17, 18)
Benardrick McKinney (2015-2020) | 1 Int | 4 FF | 2 FR | 11.5 Sk | 530 Tackles | 35 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (18)
Zach Cunningham (2017-Present) | 1 Int | 5 FF | 3 FR | 6.5 Sk | 503 Tackles | 26 TFL | Led League in Solo Tackles 2020 (106) | Led League in Tackles 2020 (164)
CB: Johnathan Joseph (2011-2019)
17 Int | 5 FF | 3 FR | 482 Tackles | 8 TFL | 2x Pro-Bowl (11, 12)
The franchise leader in interceptions is the first cornerback for the All-Time Texans. Joseph intercepted 17 passes and had just under 500 tackles during his nine seasons in Houston. He had at least one interception in every season, but one, and was voted to the Pro-Bowl in both 2011 and 2012.
CB: Kareem Jackson (2010-2018)
16 Int | 6 FF | 3 FR | 2 SK | 559 Tackles | 22 TFL
Kareem Jackson was opposite Johnathan Joseph for most of his career and he's playing opposite him here too. He has one less interception than Joseph, but about 100 more tackles. He was never voted to a Pro-Bowl or All-Pro Team, but he was a solid corner for nine seasons. His best season came in 2012 where he had four interceptions and over 500 tackles.
Aaron Glenn (2002-2004) | 11 Int | 1 FR | 1 Sk | 166 Tackles | 1 TFL | 1x Pro-Bowl (02)
Dunta Robinson (2004-2009) | 13 Int | 6 FF | 1 FR | 4 Sk | 397 Tackles | 16 TFL
S: Andre Hal (2014-2018)
12 Int | 2 FF | 1 Sk | 189 Tackles | 6 TFL
Like defensive tackle, safety is a very thin position for Houston. Andre Hal played for Houston from 2014-2018 and intercepted 12 passes and had just under 200 tackles. He had at least two interceptions in all but one of his seasons and his best season came in 2015 where he had four interceptions and 36 tackles.
S: Danieal Manning (2011-2014)
2 Int | 3 FF | 2 FR | 2 Sk | 206 Tackles | 4 TFL
The other starting safety for the All-Time Texans is Danieal Manning. Manning played in Houston for four seasons, intercepting two passes and racking up over 200 tackles. His best season was 2012 where he had over 70 tackles.
K: Kris Brown (2002-2009)
77.1 FG% | 57 Long | 767 Points | Led League in Long 2007 (57)
The franchise leader in points is the go-to at kicker. Kris Brown was the first kicker in franchise history and held the position for eight seasons. He made over 77% of his field goal attempts and led the league in long in 2007 with a 57-yard field goal.
P: Chad Stanley (2002-2006)
17,908 Punt Yds | 62 Long | 41 Yds/Punt
Just like at kicker, the first ever at the position is the starter on the All-Time Team. This spot would go to Shane Lechler, but he's and All-Time Raider. Chad Stanley averaged 41 yards per punt and is second in total punt yards behind only Lechler in franchise history.
Shane Lechler (2013-2017) | 20,461 Punt Yds | 71 Long | 47.6 Yds/Punt | Led League in Punt Yds 2017 (4,507) | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team
Returner: Jacoby Jones (2007-2011)
1,820 Punt Rt Yds | 3 Punt Rt TD | 10.2 Yds/Punt Rt | 1,490 Kick Rt Yds | 1 Kick Rt TD | 23.3 Yds/Kick Rt
Jacoby Jones is maybe more remembered for his time in Baltimore, but he was great with the Texans as well. He had over 1,000 punt and kick return yards and returned five back for touchdowns. He averaged over 10 yards per punt and 23 yards per kick. Jerome Mathis was great with the Texans as well, but I give the edge to Jones for being solid at returning both punts and kicks.
Jerome Mathis (2005-2007) | 68 Punt Rt Yds | 5.7 Yds/Punt Rt | 2,054 Kick Rt Yds | 3 Kick Rt TD | 28.5 Yds/Kick Rt | Led League in Kick Rt TD 2005 (2) | Led League in Kick Rt Long 2005 (99) | 1x Pro-Bowl (05) | 1x All-Pro (05)
Head Coach: Bill O’Brien (2014-2020)
Regular Season: 52-48 | 52 W-L% | Playoffs: 2-4
The final member of the All-Time Texans is head coach Bill O'Brien. O'Brien is the only coach in Texans history with a winning record, winning just over 50% of his games. He had five winning seasons and led the Texans to the playoffs four times, going 2-4 in playoff games. Gary Kubiak is actually the franchise leader in wins with 61, but he has a worse winning percentage, and he only took the team to the playoffs twice.
Gary Kubiack (2006-2013) | Regular Season: 61-64 | 48.8 W-L% | Playoffs: 2-2