The start of free agency is coming up people. So I figured it was time to get going on an article on who the Texans might be looking at signing. In terms of needs, the Texans do have holes to fill. With key defensive starters like Bradie James, Connor Barwin, and Glover Quin all set to hit the free agent market the Texans have a couple tough decisions to make. Here are some things to look for this upcoming week.
The Texans knew that OLB Connor Barwin was going to be a free agent soon, and would demand a lot after his 11.5 sack 2011 season. The Texans took OLB Whitney Mercilus in the 1st rd of the last season’s draft. If that wasn’t a sign of things to come I don’t know what was. The Texans aren’t going to challenge any team that offers Barwin anything over 10 million over 3 years, and basically that’s lower than any bid he’ll see. They’re going to let Mercilus do what he did in college when he led the nation in sacks before being drafted by the Texans. Barwin is more than likely going to leave for coin, and if that’s all he’s about he should. The Texans have a great team and I doubt he’ll be going to a better one. I expect the Lions to make a run at him. He’s from the Detroit area and they will be looking for DE’s for their 4-3 pass rush. Barwin has been a OLB the last 2 year’s but is naturally a DE and could easily make the switch back.
The one player I think the Texans will make a run at to try to keep is FS Glover Quin. The defensive strategy of Wade Phillips is built on being able to bring a lot of pressure and have your safeties play man coverage against WR’s and TE’s. Quin, a former CB is a perfect fit in Houston’s defense. If the Texans aren’t able to make a deal with Quin I believe it’ll be hard to find another FS with the same skill set as Quin. Knowing all this I think the Texans will be making moves to clear space cap wise to keep Quin in Houston. Since Wade Phillips has been the defensive coordinator for the Texans Quin’s been showing he can do everything on the defensive side. Against the teams that ran spread Quin was used as a CB like a nickel back, against run heavy offenses he played in the box like a extra LB. He was even used to as a blitzer more this season, Jake Locker can attest to that personally. The Texans absolutely NEED Quin if you ask me, hopefully they get a deal done.
At ILB the Texans depth was tested after defensive captain Brian Cushing went down with a knee injury. Bradie James knew the Wade Phillips defense as good as anyone. But that didn’t help in terms of speed and getting to the ball. Cushing just makes a HUGE difference while he’s on the field. With that being said if a player the likes of Bart Scott would take less money to be on a winning team the Texans may go that route, but I doubt it. I think they’ll contact former Wade Phillips product and former Charger Shaun Phillips. Phillips would make more since because he’d compliment Cushing more, being that both can blitz and cover pretty well. Also worth noting here is that HC Gary Kubiak has already talked about moving OLB Brooks Reed to ILB this off season. If that happens and Phillips is willing to take less money he’d fit even better as he played both ILB and OLB in a scheme very similar to Phillips current scheme while playing in SD.
Though the Texans have a great back up RB in Ben Tate I think they have to think about moving him to a bad team in need of a RB now for future picks. Last season this was talked about a lot right before the draft. Now after having a down year compared to his 2011 Tate won’t fetch a 2nd rd pick but could get multiple late rounders. As a team planning to be good for a long time those picks will be important to have, ask the Patriots. Regardless after this season Tate is gone. The Texans just gave Arian Foster a long term extension so I doubt they’ll give one to Tate too. He’ll leave looking for more carries and if that happens the Texans get nothing for him. If that happens I believe the best available option will be Ahmad Bradshaw as a spell for Arian Foster. Bradshaw has been to the SB and won twice, and his style fits our scheme. This past season when the Texans didn’t have Ben Tate they had no real production outside of Foster. I believe that Bradshaw could be what Tate was in 2011 when he was able to carry the Texans offense with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster out with injury in stints. Bradshaw IF HEALTHY can be a difference maker late in the season.
Other players the Texans will probably take a look at will include a slew of defensive backs. The Texans REALLY struggled against teams that spread them out last year. With guys like Adrian Wilson, Chris Gamble, Dashon Gholdson, and Rod Woodson out there the Texans may try their hand out convincing one of them to take a minimal contract because the Texans only have 7 million in space as of right now. I think former Phillips favorite from San Diego Quentin Jammer will be a CB that get lots of attention. He’s still a good player but the Chargers are purging now and getting ready to start the rebuilding phase on defense. It the Texans can add Jammer they’d boast a very experienced and physical secondary with Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph outside.