It’s too bad the owners and players apparently aren’t even close to getting this Collective Bargaining Agreement situation fixed. It’s shaping up to be a very exciting free agency period, but at this point there’s no way to tell when that part of the offseason will come.
Now, it’s only January. To do an all-encompassing free agency entry would be ridiculous at this point. So for now, I’m going to just hit on a few names that have actually been bandied about amongst Texans fans, bloggers, and media members. As the offseason wears on, I will do what I do every offseason – “Free Agent Files” as they relate to the Texans, on a position by position basis. But – that’s still a little ways off. Let’s just kick off some talk here, though. Shall we?
Steelers CB Ike Taylor
Taylor would be a big help to the Texans. Really though, can’t you say that about just about ANY decent free agent CB? Who wouldn’t be an upgrade over what we have now? Taylor’s name first showed up on my radar from a Tweet by Lance Zierlein.
Lance says there are “whispers in the Steeler locker room” that the Texans will make Taylor their top free agent priority. You could certainly do a lot worse than Taylor. He’s been a very solid corner for the Steelers, but it’s really tough to tell if he’d attain the same level of success on a Texans team that doesn’t have, you know, the rest of the Steeler defense. A lot of guys on the back end look a lot better when the front seven is as destructive and dynamic as Pittsburgh’s. That would be a concern for me, but not as big a concern as, say, Kareem Jackson not getting better than he was in 2010.
Taylor has been pretty consistent, and also important – consistently healthy. He has played in 125 of a possible 128 games in his career, and will be 31 in May.
Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha
I had no plans to address this name, but I was specifically asked my opinion on it, so here you go. Yes, I would love Nnamdi to join the Texans. Yes I think the Texans should absolutely throw a HUGE money offer at him. But if you’re expecting the Texans to be all-in for Nnamdi, you’re going to be disappointed. Going after big money, big name free agents is not how the Texans front office works. Now, if the Texans had gone out and gotten a new General Manager, then yes – I’d say you could at least have a realistic jumping-off point for hope.
There are a few (very few) that would argue that the Texans shouldn’t break the bank for Asomugha because the team has so many other needs and would hamstring itself putting all their free agency eggs in one basket. Nine times out of ten, I’d be the guy saying that – but this guy isn’t your typical big-name free agent. He’s in the prime of his career, and his presence on the field would make the guys around him better. He can lock down any receiver in the game and allow defenses a lot more flexibility. He’s a TOTAL game-changer. So yes, I would absolutely support the Texans spending gobs of their money on him, but it’s just not how the current front office operates.
Lastly, I really don’t see why he would want to come to Houston. Money talks, but there’s no way the Texans would offer SO much more than anyone else – because he’s going to get some GARGANTUAN offers. Plus, think about it for a minute – literally EVERY team in the NFL is going to be interested in Asomugha. There isn’t a single team that he wouldn’t make better. Playoff teams are going to want him. Teams that can offer him BOTH the chance to win big immediately, and pay him every dollar he wants.
Sadly, all we can hope for is that the Texans make a real run at him. He’s not going to accept it, but they have to at least try. Otherwise, Gary Kubiak’s claim that he will get whatever personnel they need on the defense to make this team better will ring hollow.
Broncos CB Champ Bailey
Speculation about the Texans making a run at Bailey is all over the place. He’s still effective at the age of 32, and he’d be a fine addition to the Texans. Bailey has also said he would be fine making the move to safety late in his career, but I’m guessing he’s not ready to take that step just yet. For a player of his age, you worry about injuries, but Bailey has stayed healthy for the most part. The big question is, for the amount it would take to land him in Houston, how much longer before his skills start to decline more rapidly?
Bailey’s Denver ties fan the flames of speculation that he could end up in Houston, but as with Asomugha, I have to wonder aloud – why would he choose Houston? He’s in the twilight of his career, but he’s still playing well, and he’ll be another guy who is in demand. He also, you would think, would want to go somewhere where he has a shot to win a Super Bowl immediately. Like Asomugha, I expect big-time, big-money, perennial playoff teams to be interested in Bailey. So do you really want to make up the difference by paying WAY too much for a guy who is going to be 33 in June?
Vikings DT Pat Williams
Once again, I point you to Lance Zierlein as the source for this tidbit of speculation. Williams, 38, has been a staple on the Minnesota defensive line (a 4-3 defense) for many years, and Lance figures he would be a good fit to come in and tie up blockers as the nose tackle in Houston’s new 3-4 defense. Wade Phillips has run his version of the 3-4 with smaller, quicker NTs (Jay Ratliff in Dallas, 303 pounds), and with big, fat, space-eating sorts (Jamal Williams in San Diego, 348 pounds).
Despite Wade’s comments that Earl Mitchell, Shaun Cody, or Amobi Okoye could play the nose, we just don’t know yet in which direction he’s going to go for that position. I honestly think that the starting NT for the 2011 Houston Texans is not yet on the roster.
Williams could certainly fill the role, but he wouldn’t exactly get anyone excited. At his age he’s still somewhat effective, but obviously far past his prime. If the Texans want to go into what I would hope would be a make-or-break season with a proven commodity at that position, I could certainly understand that. Depending on how the prospects shake out after the Combine, though, I’d love to see the Texans go after their NT of the present and future in the draft.
So there are a few names to kick off the always-active free agent talk around these parts. There will be MUCH more free agent talk to come as the offseason wears on.