NFL Free Agency 2013: Assessing the Texans' Damage
The Texans' Twitter proclamation about Rick Smith's early morning travel schedule on Thursday served a dual purpose, providing a symbolic ending to Glover Quin's tenure with the Texans while simultaneously opening a gateway to an intriguing (albeit likely much briefer) future with Hall of Famer Ed Reed taking over Quin's safety slot.
The first two full days of free agency came and went, and by Thursday night the Texans were left with a few more questions on their current roster than they had Tuesday morning.
So as we all await Ed Reed's expected signature Friday morning, let's briefly assess the damage left behind by the free agency shoppers, in chronological order of "former Texan pilfered," and list winners and losers as well:
JAMES CASEY, tight end
Signed with Philadelphia, 3 years $14.5 million ($6 million guaranteed)
WINNER: Savvy fantasy owners in points per receptions leagues
LOSER: Rice University, who lost their biggest local celeb alum
Casey was the first and least surprising Texan to find greener pastures elsewhere. With roughly 15 teams reportedly showing interest in the Texans' starting fullback/sometimes tight end, the odds were high that a team was going to want to pick up Casey to do the things he did so well in his brief college career at Rice, like catch a shit-ton of footballs and run people over like a Mack truck.
If you're a Texans fan that's fearful of being starkly reminded on a weekly basis just how woefully miscast and poorly used James Casey was as a Houston Texan, there may not be a madder scientist to rub salt in that wound than Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who is expected to implement all sorts of up-tempo and innovation that might make James Casey look like one of the biggest bargains of this free agency shopping season. Seriously, we might look back at James Casey being used as a fullback with the Texans the same way that wrestling fans look back at the Undertaker being used as "Mean" Mark in WCW.
Did I just ask if Chip Kelly is the football version of Vince McMahon? I believe I did. THAT'S the million dollar question. (Honestly, how has the NFL Network not hired me yet, with analysis like that?)
GLOVER QUIN, safety
Signed with Detroit, 5 years $23.5 million ($5.25 million signing bonus)
WINNER: Ed Reed
LOSER: Roc Carmichael, a lock to have to forfeit his #20 jersey to Reed
Of the three free agents to leave the Texans, this one was the most surprising, only because the general consensus among everybody -- fans, media, perhaps even Quin's former teammates -- was that Quin was the Texans' highest priority in free agency, which actually might be true. If so, then we learned that priority and dollar value are two mutually exclusive characteristics, because Quin wound up with a seemingly reasonable deal with the Lions, a deal that a lot of educated fans and media would have had no problem with the Texans inking with him.
And still, when you peel back the onion of the Texans salary cap situation, and view it outside the window of just this week, with X amount of cap space and these specific free agents, it starts to make a little more sense. First, examine the Texans players with a cap figure of $5 million or more for the upcoming season (Quin's first year cap figure in Detroit is only $2 million, but it jumps to $5 million in Year 2, so I will evaluate him alongside that caliber of player):
Andre Johnson, $14,652,918
Johnathan Joseph, $11,250,000
Matt Schaub, $10,750,000
Antonio Smith, $9,500,000
Arian Foster $8,250,000
Owen Daniels $5,750,000
Chris Myers $5,500,000
Danieal Manning, $5,500,000
Duane Brown, $5,000,000
Nine players, including seven 2012 Pro Bowlers. It could be as simple as the Texans drawing a line on who is considered a core player and their not seeing Glover Quin as one of those guys.
Second, add in three names that are absent from this list: