The Houston Texans came into the NFL as an expansion team in 2002, making the franchise the youngest in the league. The Texans won their first division championship in 2011 and, since then, have won the AFC South title five times (2012, 2015-16, 2018-19).
Despite their recent success, the Texans have yet to appear in the AFC Championship Game. They are currently the only team in the NFL to never play for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
The Texans have had some great players since becoming an NFL franchise. But when it comes down to the best of the best, who are the players that can line up on the Mount Rushmore of Houston Texans? Read below for a list of the four greatest players in Texans franchise history.
J.J. Watt is without a question the greatest player in franchise history. Drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Watt quickly became one of the best players in the league. In his first five seasons, Watt was honored as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. He became the first player in league history to record 20 or more sacks in multiple seasons (2012 and 2014).
Watt is a five-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro selection. He was also a member of the NFL's 2010s All-Decade Team and was recognized as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017 when he raised more than $40 million for the Houston area after Hurricane Harvey. Watt donated $100,000 of his own money for relief and recovery efforts.
Watt, who will enter his 10th NFL season in 2020, already has first-ballot Hall of Famer added to his resume.
Andre Johnson, the No. 3 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, is the greatest wide receiver to suit up for the Texans. Now that All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was traded away to the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson's franchise records should stand for the foreseeable future.
Over his Hall of Fame-worthy career, Johnson was a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection. He led the NFL in receptions twice (2006 and 2008), and he also led the league in receiving yards twice (2008 and 2009).
Johnson, the first-ever member of the Texans' Ring of Honor, has quite a few franchise records under his belt: most career receptions (1,012), receiving yards (13,597) and touchdowns (64). He also has the most receptions (115) and receiving yards (1,598) in a single season.
Arian Foster, who played college football at the University of Tennessee, was signed by the Texans as a free agent in 2009, and he finished his career as one of the best undrafted players to suit up in an NFL uniform.
Foster was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, which included two first-team honors. He led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2010, and he finished his career as the Texans' all-time rushing yards (6,472) and rushing touchdowns (54) leader.
In 2010, Foster put together the best season of his career. He had 1,616 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns, and he also hauled in 66 receptions for 604 receiving yards and two more scores.
You could make a case for former Texans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to fill the fourth and final spot on this list, but he would ultimately be surpassed by Deshaun Watson. In only three NFL seasons, Watson is already the greatest quarterback in franchise history. The No. 12 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson is already a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the best young signal-callers in the NFL.
Watson only started in six games during his rookie campaign, but he managed to finished with 19 passing touchdowns. In his first full season under center, Watson threw for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns, and he had 551 rushing yards with five more scores. And, in 2019, Watson had 3,852 passing yards with 26 TDs and 413 rushing yards with seven rushing scores.
Over the next couple of seasons, Watson will easily own every franchise record for a quarterback. And if the Texans continue to build around the face of their franchise, the sky is the limit for the team moving forward.