Following Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans needed help on defense. They were able to acquire depth on Monday afternoon by agreeing to a trade with the Oakland Raiders for cornerback Gareon Conley. The former first-round pick out of Ohio State will now head to Texas and prepare for a matchup against his former team.
According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, the Texans are sending a third-round pick to the Raiders in exchange for Conley. This was one of the picks gained by trading pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Texans are using this to bolster the defensive depth. Interestingly enough, Conley's first game as a member of the Texans, provided he plays this week, will be against the Raiders.
This trade became necessary for the Texans after an injury-plagued week that saw the defense lose multiple cornerbacks. Johnathan Joseph made his return to the lineup after missing a game due to injury, but he suffered another setback when he hurt his shoulder. Fellow corner Philip Gaines hurt his ankle and had to be carted off the field. Meanwhile, offseason acquisition Bradley Roby was out with a hamstring injury.
By the end of Sunday's game, the Texans had two healthy cornerbacks, both of which were rookies. A sixth-round pick in Xavier Crawford was taking his first snaps of the season while second-round pick Lonnie Johnson Jr. was continuing his time in the starting lineup.
Conley had long been rumored to be on the trade block, dating back to 2018, but Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stuck with the former first-round pick. The response was improved performance, as well as optimism that Conley would become one of the league's elite, but he has struggled during the first portions of the 2019 campaign.
Against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Conley was one of the corners that quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted on a frequent basis. The veteran found considerable success as he threw for more than 400 yards and five touchdowns.
According to Pro Football Focus, Conley has generated a grade of 55.6, which is on the lower side of his position. However, Conley has also not been able to play man coverage in Oakland, which is when he covers a specific receiver. In Houston, however, he will primarily play man, which highlights his strengths as a player.
Back in 2017, the Raiders took a leap of faith by drafting Conley out of Ohio State with the 24th overall pick in the draft. While he was viewed as one of the top players in the class due to a standout career for the Buckeyes, Conley was also dealing with allegations of rape.
Ultimately, he was proven innocent, but the majority of the NFL chose to stay away from the corner during opening night. The Raiders selected Conley after conducting their own investigation and administering a polygraph, which he passed and put any concerns to rest.
With these legal issues behind him, Conley was set up to step into the defensive rotation and contribute immediately as a rookie. This didn't pan out as Conley's rookie season was cut short due to a nagging shin injury that limited him to only two games.
Conley's second season, however, was a much different campaign. He was active for 15 games and turned in a solid year overall. Although Conley was benched early in the year for struggles in coverage. He returned to the starting lineup in the back half of the season and became the best corner in the secondary. He limited Antonio Brown to five catches for 35 yards and Tyreek Hill to one reception for 13 yards during a week 13 matchup.0comments
While there were times of adversity during his first true season as a starter, Conley settled down and provided hope that he is on the rise. During his 2018 season, Conley tallied 37 combined tackles, 15 passes defensed, and three interceptions. He also returned one pick for a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.
(Photo Credit: David Eulitt/Getty)