Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph is due to become a free agent. The 12-year NFL veteran has spent the past seven seasons in Houston and has been a key member of the Texans defense. With how poorly the pass defense performed this season and how much it could cost to retain Joseph, the Texans could decide to go in a different direction.
During his time in Houston, Joseph has accumulated 14 interceptions and 96 pass defenses. Three of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns including one this season. Joseph appeared in all 16 games this season. A feat he has accomplished only twice before with the Texans.
Pro Football Focus ranks Joseph as the 67th overall cornerback. Joseph grades out as average according to their system. This is not exactly praiseworthy by any means. There are many more cornerbacks in the league who perform better than Joseph at this stage in his career.
In a story by Aaron Wilson from the Houston Chronicle, Joseph stated that he would prefer to stay in Houston. This does not come as a surprise since older players generally do not prefer to jump from team to team. The commitment to the Texans is encouraging. Joseph later stated that there was progress in terms of a new contract but nothing close. The change in the front office could alter the approach to roster management. This could mean a change of heart in regards to Joseph.
Joseph will be 33 years old next season and was paid $6.5 million as his base salary in 2017. There are many other cornerbacks in the league who are younger and play for less. This includes several who are due to be free agents as well. The Texans would be wise to find younger and less expensive options than Joseph.
Simply put the Texans need to improve their secondary and that could include moving on from Joseph. However there is also the possibility that Houston retains his services on a short deal. The potential to draft his replacement is not as likely due to lack of high draft picks. There is always the chance a mid to late round pick develops into a suitable cornerback. However immediate results are necessary instead of a developmental player. Houston has playoff aspirations and need the best players they can get. This could include Joseph.
If Houston decides to keep Joseph on a short deal it can be beneficial. Joseph knows the defensive scheme and can be a consistent presence in the secondary. If Houston would rather spend on younger cornerbacks it can also improve the team in a different manner. As long as the Texans spend money on their secondary it will be a good decision. They need help and last season was a clear indicator of that.