As the Houston Texans roll into their 10th season as a franchise, they are at their peak as a football team. Which is why this free agency period is even more important than last years. We are tightly strapped when it comes cap space, and we have some big names we have to take care of. OLB Mario Williams is due to be a free agent, and RB Arian Foster and C Chris Meyers are due to be restricted free agents. General Manager Rick Smith has some big decisions to make and which way he goes could determine the future success of the franchise.
OLB Mario Williams
If Mario chooses to test the waters of free agency it is a safe bet that he will be the highest paid defensive free agent ever. He is only 27 and in his past 5 seasons he has accumulated over 10 sacks a season. He was the #1 pick the ’06 draft, and has missed a majority of the past two seasons, regardless, any team in the NFL would pay up for a high caliber pass rusher. His position is one of the top 3 highest paid in the NFL, which is why if GM Rick Smith chooses to Franchise Tag Williams, it will cost the Texans more than $22 million in cap space. So his situation will likes go 1 of 3 ways. 1. We franchise Williams for a large sum of cash, but risk being able to sign Foster and/or Meyers. 2. Mario likes Houston so much, that he is able to restructure a smaller contract. 3. He goes to another team for a larger pay check.
RB Arian Foster
Foster was probably the #1 reason for the Texans playoff success last season. No Texan has been more consistent than Foster in the past 2 seasons. In his 3 seasons in Houston he has accumulated over 3000 rushing yards, and only 257 were accumulated in his 2009 season. Foster is priority number one for the Texans front office, and if it is not, it should be. He proved his worth when QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson went down, whom are the back bone of the Texans offense. He is a restricted free agent, which lessens my worries of the Texans letting go of Foster. If the Texans front office were to resign Foster, it is likely he will get a huge new long term contract, with Top 5 RB salary numbers.
C Chris Meyers
If the Texans sign Foster it is highly likely the Texans sign Center Chris Meyers as well. He has been the key the success of Arian Foster. The Texans for a majority of their franchise have had a shotty offensive line, i.e. David Carr era, but since the hiring of Rick Dennison and the starting of Meyers, the Texans have had a Top 3 offensive line. With the QB injury woes of last season, I see it highly likely the Texans invest in the protection of Center Chris Meyers.
With the increased production of DE J.J. Watt and OLB Connor Barwin, it is a safe bet to assume that unless Mario takes less money he won’t be returning to the team. The end of free agency will probably leave the Texans with Meyers and Foster still on the team. Which raises the question of the future of WR Jacoby Jones and WR Kevin Walter. The 2012 draft, has a lot of talent in the WR and Defensive line areas, so look for the Texans front office to determine their 1st round #26 in those areas.