Longtime ABC-13 Houston sports anchor Bob Allen reported on-air tonight that a source has told him the Texans will target Arizona Cardinals DE Antonio Smith in free agency. I saw this on Texans Talk, but there’s no confirmation link for this.
I did call someone I know in Houston who never misses Channel 13 news, and I’m assured that Allen was actually citing a source, not just putting his own speculation out there. The person who started that Texans Talk thread also confirmed Allen was citing a source. (Yeah, I’m way overthinking this).
My first reaction to this was, predictably – meh. But I react that way a lot. Now that I’ve thought about it a little bit, I look at it like this: If it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on our draft plan for a DE, then fine. Smith is 27, and if our first or second-round DE isn’t able to tear it up right away, he’d be a great asset to have provided the price is right.
If he’s expected to be THE guy opposite Mario, and the Texans just pick up a mid or low-round DE in the draft, that is unacceptable.
Smith did a fairly good job with the Cardinals this season. He started the season slowly but came on hard toward the end, and had a good post-season as well. In four playoff games, Smith had two sacks and a forced fumble. He’s proven to be durable as well, playing in all 16 games plus playoffs in 2008, and all 16 games in 2006-2007. He has not been a full-time starter, though – starting in 10 regular season games last year, 13 in 2007, and he had 10 starts in 2006.
Numbers like that make me think that he’ll be looking for a starter’s contract, even though he hasn’t always been a starter. Since he played well in the post-season, he’s probably looking to use that performance as a springboard to being a full-time starter, and would probably want to be paid like one. His sack numbers are as follows, keeping in mind again that he was not a full-time starter:  3.5 sacks (plus 2 in the playoffs),  5.5 sacks,  2.5 sacks,  3.0 sacks.
Those aren’t gaudy numbers by any stretch, but as I’ve said before – Anthony Weaver was so bad as a pass-rusher, that I think a lot of us have lost sight of the fact that we don’t need a second ELITE pass-rusher. We need a competent/solid, or at most a very good one. Obviously, if we get a guy who is better than very good, we’ll take it – but we certainly don’t need to pay for it in free agency.
I wonder if this is the free agent signing that DeMeco Ryans alluded to in his now infamous radio interview. It’s not anything approaching a big splash, but it could be a solid move that gives the Texans a little bit of overpriced insurance if their early DE draft pick doesn’t hit the field with immediate effectiveness… or it could turn out to be overpriced depth if the DE draft pick is a hit. That would be a great problem to have.
Lastly, could this be the start of an Arizona–>Houston defensive pipeline to match the Denver–>Houston offensive pipeline? New defensive coordinator Frank Bush was on the defensive staff in Arizona from 2004-2006, so that would make sense.
These are way too many words to spend on a rumor, but hey – it’s free agency! There’s excitement in the air.