Houston Texans: 3 free agents team should sign to a ‘prove it’ deal
By Neal Sharma
No. 3: Larry Warford
Larry Warford’s situation is a little bit more trickier than others.
Drafted in 2013 by the Detroit Lions, Warford’s career took off in 2017 when he signed with the New Orleans Saints. Prior to 2017, Warford had not been a Pro Bowl selection, however, he was a pro bowler in the three years he played with the Saints (2017-19).
Unfortunately, his pass blocking was on a steep decline over the third year in his contract, leading to his release despite him earning a Pro Bowl nomination. His run blocking was still stellar and he could be extremely useful for the Houston Texans considering the fact that they cut Nick Martin and are likely moving Zach Fulton to the center spot.
The Houston Texans did next to nothing in the run game last year, and consistently pounding David Johnson inside with struggling interior offensive lineman (especially when Johnson is better with outside runs) wasn’t doing the team any favors.
Since Johnson was brought back, as was Tim Kelly, expect a similar game plan with the run. If the Texans are going to do that, then they might as well have somebody who is an excellent run blocker, that being Warford.
Here’s the tricky part of his situation, Warford opted out of the 2020 season, and he hasn’t played football in a year, and he was receiving offers prior to him opting out.
The interest level around the league could still be the same, maybe even a bit higher, and Warford could say that he was a pro bowler and use that as leverage into getting a nice, long-term contract rather than a “prove it” deal.
It also could go the opposite way. There could be less interest in him due to him sitting out last year — we saw how that worked out for Le’Veon Bell — and he could be forced to take a short term “prove it” deal to show he has what it takes to earn that nice contract, which helps the Texans.
It is doubtful Warford would want to sign with the Texans, just like any other player out there looking for a chance to prove themselves.
If Warford managed to contribute towards making Johnson half has good as what he was prior to his injuries, he can draw legitimate interest the following offseason, especially if he shows improvement in his pass block ability.