UPDATE Punter Matt Turk has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After all the talk and bluster from Bob McNair about how the Texans were going to be aggressive players in the free agent game, fans had every reason to be skeptical. As reports leaked Wednesday and Thursday that the Texans were pushing hard for Nnamdi Asomugha, some fans began to get on board… they began to “hope” if you will. For me, I still never thought they were going to sign Asomugha, but what their push showed me was that the Texans were finally serious about throwing around some real money in free agency.
pretended to have interest in the Texans in order to drive up his price for the Jets considered his choices, the Texans apparently got sick of waiting, or were afraid they’d miss out on the next best thing – so they went out and signed themselves a gentleman by the name of Johnathan Joseph, cornerback, Cincinnati Bengals.
Universally considered to be the second-best corner of this free agent class, Joseph came cheaper than Asomugha, and is three years younger (27, which he just turned in April). Joseph has had some durability issues, but when he’s healthy, there aren’t a lot of guys at his position better.
The Texans signed Joseph for five years, $48.75 million, with $23.5 guaranteed. Included in that is a $12.5 million signing bonus. It’s not far off from what Dunta Robinson signed for, only Joseph is better now than Robinson was when he got that deal… and younger…. and better. And better.
The money saved by signing Joseph over Asomugha gives them more flexibility (not a ton, mind you) to sign some other pieces and continue to fix a shattered defense. Perhaps the Texans can also land one of the free agent safeties, such as Dawan Landry, Danieal Manning, Michael Huff, Dashon Goldson, Gerald Sensabaugh (lock!), etc.
You know, looking again at those numbers, it is going to be a pretty significant savings over Asomugha – though we won’t know what he TRULY would have commanded if he ends up signing with the Jets. The Texans will have to perform a bit of a shell game to get everything under the cap for 2011, no doubt… but they’re not done yet. It won’t be another exciting name, but hopefully it will be someone who can come in as an unquestioned starter (you know, like ANY of the above safety names).
So just to be clear – I’m happy with this move, despite my typical cynicism. Joseph should be in or entering his prime, he has tremendous ball skills, and if he stays healthy, should have a several good years ahead of him. So our beloved team’s biggest, most glaring need is taken care of… NOW LET’S GO GET A SAFETY!
Head over to my friends at Battle Red Blog for some comments from Joseph about joining the Texans, and some reaction from Gary Kubiak and Eric Winston.