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Texans' protection issues get more concerning if they add Tony Romo

HOUSTON -- If Tony Romo ends up starting for the Houston Texans next season, he would go from playing behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines in Dallas to one that needs improvement.

Not only will Romo be 37 when the 2017 season starts but he has not been able to stay healthy the past two seasons, playing only five games (starting four of them) since the start of the 2015 season. During the preseason in 2016, he injured his back on the third play of the game and played in just one game the rest of the year.

Last year, the Texans dealt with a lot of injuries, and their preferred starting offensive line of Duane Brown (LT), Xavier Su'a-Filo (LG), second-round pick Nick Martin (C), Jeff Allen (RG) and Derek Newton (RT) did not play a single snap together last season. Backup tackle Chris Clark filled in for Brown and Newton while they were injured but did not prove that he can be a starter next season. With Newton’s status for next season unknown as he recovers from tearing the patellar tendons in both of his legs, this is a position the Texans need to address this offseason.

Several mock drafts have the Texans taking a tackle in the first round, even with the questions at quarterback, because they pick so late in the round. But many experts have called this a bad draft class for offensive tackles and ESPN Insider's Mel Kiper has only three going in the first round: Ryan Ramczyk, Garett Bolles and Cam Robinson.

The free-agent market has been good to offensive linemen so far, with many multiyear contracts signed paying more than $10 million per year, which is something that is likely out of Houston’s price range if it is able to sign Romo.

Houston’s offensive line showed improvement as the season progressed, led primarily by Brown, who anchored the group. The Texans finished the regular season tied for 11th in the NFL with 32 sacks allowed, and they averaged 116.2 rushing yards per game, which was ranked eighth in the league.

Earlier in the offseason, Brown said he thinks that if the five starters can stay healthy and have time to work together, it doesn’t matter who is playing quarterback behind them.

"Getting a healthy five that starts to jell from day one will help us a lot in pass protection," Brown said. "That’s the main thing. Keeping the quarterback upright and giving him time to operate. I think anybody can be successful back there."

Although Romo has an extensive injury history, he is more mobile in the pocket than Brock Osweiler or Tom Savage. If the Texans want to protect their quarterback next season, the group needs to improve. That starts with good health and likely with an improvement on the right side.