As of the time I post this entry, Vonta Leach has yet to decide what he’s going to do. Reports have circulated that there are four or five teams in on him, and other reports suggest the market is not nearly as hot for him as he would like. There’s just no way to know.
There are a few things about the Vonta situation that are a bit clearer, though. I was afraid that Vonta was just going to bolt for the biggest offer. I was wrong. If he was going to do that, it would have happened by now. It seems as though he’s giving the Texans every opportunity to match or at least get close to the number he wants, otherwise we would have had a decision by now.
If Vonta leaves, I don’t think Texans fans should be upset with him or with the front office. If the team was pinching pennies this offseason, then yes – even when you take football reasons out of the equation, you could still be steamed at management. But the team is spending in a BIG way during this free agency period, and if the money doesn’t go to Vonta, it had at least gone to their biggest position of need, cornerback, and arguably (behind nose tackle) their second-biggest position of need, safety.
So if the Texans part ways with Leach, there shouldn’t be an outcry. He absolutely deserves to be the highest-paid fullback in the NFL, and I’m sure he wants to win desperately. Most of the teams allegedly in the running for Leach are contenders, so he should have the “I want to win” part covered, unless he ends up with Denver… which would be surprising. My thought from day one was that he would end up in Baltimore if he didn’t stay in Houston.
While it seems the Texans are doing what they can to retain Leach behind closed doors, you also have to speculate about where else that money could go. Leach is said to want in the neighborhood of $6 million per season. No way would I pay that, much as I love the guy. Could the Texans land DL Cullen Jenkins for that much? What about a solid veteran ILB? They need ILB depth in a serious way.
You can certainly make an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument when it comes to Leach and the running game, but with all the money being thrown around, something has to give. You can’t keep everyone, and the Texans can find another fullback, if they don’t already have one on the roster. It would just be tough to let go of someone who was so key to the running game last year… but let’s not also forget that Leach was the lead-blocker in 2009 when the Texans’ running game was garbage. He’s a difference-maker, but it’s not going to be the end of the Texans’ offense. I think a lot of us know that.
For me, aside from his ability – he just seems like the only guy on the offense that brings serious VIOLENCE to the other team. He’s always the first one to push and shove with other teams, always the first to get into a scrap. No, that doesn’t make him a better player – but you need guys like that on your team. I’d like for him to be around to instill a little bit of that in others, even if it’s purely cosmetic.
C’mon, Vonta. Stick around. I want to see you make LBs cry again.