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After a few days of courting each other, Houston Chronicle writer John McClain is reporting that the Houston Texans have officially signed ex-Cleveland Browns fullback Lawrence Vickers. Per The General, the deal with Vickers is two-years and worth $3 million with a $500,000 signing bonus, modest compared to Vonta Leach's $11 million deal over three years with the Baltimore Ravens.
Vickers was made expendable in Cleveland after the Browns drafted Stanford two-way star Owen Marecic in April's NFL Draft. This came after Vickers started all 16 games last season and cleared the way for Peyton Hillis to run for 1,177 yards and the Madden NFL 12 cover. Vickers helped three running backs rush for over 1,000 yards over the last four seasons as a starting fullback for the Browns.
Per an article with Cleveland.com from June, the fit with Houston seems like a great one. While at the University of Colorado, Vickers was in an offense that ran a scheme close to Mike Shanahan's. Shanahan, as we know, is the mentor of Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. The versatile Vickers, as he'd like people to remember, had more than 500 yards rushing and receiving in his Buffalo career. In his NFL career, he's shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, something the Texans like out of both fullbacks and running backs.
Vickers will battle James Casey for a starting fullback spot in the Houston offense. Personally, I think there's a way to utilize both men in this offense and possibly on the field at the same time. Casey's more athletic and could be line up as a fullback, H-back, and tight end while Vickers is a fullback who can block and catch. Of course, it will all be decided over the course of training camp and the preseason.
Keep following SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans news and analysis.
We’ve got some free agency news from the ever-reliable Houston Texans writer and blogger Nick Scurfield. On his Twitter account in grabbing Monday’s post-practice comments, Scurfield tweeted that both head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith confirmed that free agent fullback Lawrence Vickers is in town for a visit today.
The 6’0’’, 250 pound Beaumont native has spent his full six-year career as a Cleveland Brown where they have had a 1,000+ yard rusher in three of the last four seasons – including last year’s 1,177 yards by Madden 2012 cover boy Peyton Hillis. While the team is publicly behind the athletic, jack-of-all-trades James Casey in the role, they have to bring in a veteran to battle for the position as opposed to handing it off to someone with little experience. In my opinion, there's a spot for both on the offense and in the creative offensive mind of Kubiak.
There was also comment on free agent defensive end, and Texas A&M alum, Ty Warren. Smith said they had a good visit with
Also in practice today, wide receiver Andre Johnson left the field with what’s being called a dislocated finger. Reports on Twitter roared that he was carted off the field, but the injury appears to be minor at the moment. Kubiak is hopeful he can rejoin the team for practice this afternoon. As I type this I see that Stephanie Stradley is tweporting that the finger in question has been popped back in.
Make sure to follow SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans free agency coverage.
According to Chicago Tribune Bears beat writer Brad Biggs, the Houston Texans have agreed to a one-year deal with former Bears punter Brad Maynard.
Maynard, a 14-year veteran, was 17th in the NFL with 24 punts inside the 20, a 40.1 yard average, and 303 return yards against. His best year came in 2008 where he had 40 punts downed and a minuscule 203 return yards against. Return yards against is a key stat because special teams coach Joe Marciano has been on record saying hang time and minimizing return yards is his key for the punt coverage team.
If Maynard's going to fill the void left by the departing Matt Turk and his 233 return yards against then he will have to outkick undrafted free agent punter Brett Hartman out of Central Michigan.
It may be one day, but Hartmann has already caught the eye of CBS RapidReports. According to the RapidReports, Hartmann was hanging punts in the air consistently for 4.5-5.0 seconds. Hartmann also had 37% of his career punts downed inside the 20 at Central Michigan. For comparison's sake, Maynard has had 32.3% of his career NFL punts downed inside the 20.
For more on the ever-important punting battle and all your Texans insight, be sure to check out Battle Red Blog.
Sunday was a day to be expected for your Houston Texans. On one hand is all eight Houston Texans rookies, led by defensive end and first round pick J.J. Watt, are signed and ready for training camp. With the new rookie cap that the collective bargaining agreement provides, it was really matter of when and not if. All the rookies attended today's team meeting and are expected on the practice fields on Monday. Aside from Watt, second round picks Brandon Harris and Brooks Reed are expected to be significant contributors to turn around a porous defense.
The other expectation? All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach has left to greener pastures in Baltimore. The greener comes in the form of an $11 million, three-year contract that Houston couldn't match. It will be a loss, but I don't believe it will be a huge loss. As the esteemed bigfatdrunk has said on Battle Red Blog, Leach only played 38% of the offensive snaps in 2010 - easily his best season in Houston. Do you commit all that money in Leach or put it towards a safety who can contibute more throughout the game? It's not an easy question, but the Texans opted for defense and rightfully so.
To fill the Leach void, James Casey will get an opportunity to earn the job. Per John McClain's Twitter feed, Cleveland fullback (and bulldozer for Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis) Lawrence Vickers said his agent is talking to the Texans. Perhaps we will hear that he's signed on Monday in time to practice. Stay tuned for that news and more on this site and Battle Red Blog.
Aside from making move to strengthen the team (signing CB Johnathan Joseph and SS Danieal Manning while re-signing OT Rashad Butler, backup QB Matt Leinart, and WR Jacoby Jones), the Houston Texans are also clearing their roster of those who have underperformed or perhaps were making a bit too much money for their role on the team.
Per John McClain, the Texans have waived former first round pick Amobi Okoye and fan favorite David Anderson after they were unable to find teams willing to trade for them. In addition, they had cut former backup QB Dan Orlovsky yesterday (and he has already been signed by the Indianapolis Colts).
It's not all that surprising that no trade could be made given the fact that most teams knew those players would likely be cut. For Anderson, the 28-year old comedian showed flashes of a good slot receiver. However, he had fallen to fourth on the depth chart and had the cheaper and potential-laden Dorin Dickerson breathing down his neck. The move, while saving some cap room, was likely a way to give Anderson a chance to use the prime of his career elsewhere.
As for Amobi Okoye, the writing had been on the wall seeing as the new defensive regime rarely, if ever, talked about his role on the new defense. Once the 10th overall pick in 2007 and proverbial wonder kid, Okoye never recaptured that pass-rushing flash from his rookie season where he racked up 5.5 sacks. You can blame his young age (he was drafted at 19) or blame the coaches who couldn't teach him good technique or use him as he should've been used (gap-shooting pass rusher as opposed to a run stuffer), but the fact remains that apologists can't deny Okoye never lived up to his potential in Houston. I am one to believe that the 24-year old Okoye has plenty of time to catch on to another team (Denver? Philadelphia? Indianapolis? Minnesota?) and get another chance to fulfill his potential - and I do believe that he still has potential.
In other departing Texans news, LB Zac Diles was signed to a one-year deal by the St. Louis Rams while P Matt Turk took a two-year deal to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Rookies should sign today prior to tomorrow's camp opening, stay tuned to this site and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans moves.
My head is spinning thanks to your Houston Texans and this frantic free agency frenzy. It is hard to keep up with all of the rumors, but tonight's signings just add to it. Mere hours after adding cornerback Johnathan Joseph to the roster, Rick Smith was at it again by adding veteran safety Danieal Manning, per Mr. John McClain.
Unlike Joseph, Manning's contract is more modest at four years for $20 million with nine of that guaranteed. Like Joseph, Manning immediately upgrades the league's worst secondary.
Last year, it was the starting foursome of CB Glover Quin, free safety Eugene Wilson, strong safety Bernard Pollard, and rookie Kareem Jackson. Now? Quin slides to a much more natural free safety role alongside Manning to provide support Joseph and the sophomore Jackson.
As for Manning, his statistics appear to show a guy who can do a little bit of everything - cover, support the run, blitz when asked to. While he may not be a Pro Bowler, Manning should provide an upgrade over Pollard, who often got turned around in coverage and gave up the most touchdowns out of any member of the woeful 2010 secondary.
This is a banner day for the Texans front office who were often lauded for going after mediocre and middling players. Tonight, Houston has greatly improved their back four and sent a message that they are, without a doubt, attempting to field a winner. Apparently, all it took was a little fire lit under everyone's backsides and some accountability...imagine that.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for more free agent news as the Texans don't appear to be done yet. There's still the matter of All Pro fullback Vonta Leach and Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda will be visiting the facilities this weekend.
After being held hostage for what felt like months, the Houston Texans front office finally landed their veteran cornerback. While Nnamdi Asomugha hemmed and hawed over offers from the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Texans, more people began to focus on Johnathan Joseph. News broke at around 7:10 pm Houston time that the Texans had agreed to a five-year deal with the widely regarded second best cornerback on the market.
It's not Asomugha, but Rick Smith and company showed they could negotiate with multiple cornerbacks and nab a star target as opposed to putting all their eggs in one basket and risk coming away with nothing. While financial numbers are unknown, the deal will likely come in at around $9-$11 million per season in my guess (judging off Nnamdi numbers).
In Joseph, the Texans will get their veteran stabilizer in the secondary. Joseph will man the top of the depth chart while mentoring young Kareem Jackson, Brandon Harris, and the other cornerbacks. To me it seems like the smart choice because Joseph is who I compared Jackson to post NFL Draft. They both have a similar size and mindset except that Joseph's already taken his lumps and had very good years in Cincinnati.
There will be more analysis about what Joseph does for Houston and Wade Phillips' defense, but, for right now, Houston fans are rejoicing at a big free agent signing and turning their eyes to picking up a starting safety. Visit Battle Red Blog for all your happy Texans reactions and stay tuned to both sites as we continue to monitor free agency.
EDIT at 8:08 pm: Per the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, the five-year deal is worth $48.75 million with $23.5 million guaranteed and a $12 million signing bonus. Do the rough math and it fits into what I thought. In my eyes, the Texans did not overpay.
In the past hour, lots and lots of media sources have been confirming the Texans have the highest offer on the table for Nnamdi Asomugha and are now in the lead to secure his services. Mike Lombardi of NFL.com broke the news first earlier this morning and it’s since been confirmed by Pro Football Talk and the Houston Chronicle’s John McLain.
According to McLain, Houston is offering more money once they learned that they could restructure some contracts to free up the cap space. If the numbers are correct, Nnamdi should get about $12-14 million a year.
We’re still a long way off from things being confirmed, and there’s still a lot that can change now that this information was leaked. What we’re also hearing about the negotiations is that the Jets have pulled out after running into problems with Nnamdi set to make more than their own cornerback in Darelle Revis.
Other teams still involved with Nnamdi’s negotiations appear to be the San Francisco 49ers and maybe another. It also sounds like Philadelphia is not/was not in the running for whatever reason, which is interesting because the Eagles were a favorite landing spot for Nnamdi before free agency started.
After a night of weighing his options, quarterback Matt Leinart has made his decision to avoid a clogged depth chart in
The details of the deal have not been released at this time, but this move almost ensures that Leinart will be the primary back-up to Matt Schaub and Dan Orlovsky will get his walking papers on Thursday when teams are allowed to release players. Rookie T.J. Yates will likely slide into the third quarterback role.
Yesterday, rumors had placed Leinart in
Gary Kubiak’s done nothing but compliment Leinart during his time in
With Nnamdi Asomugha’s future up in the air, stay tuned to SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans news and notes.
Per the busy Adam Schefter, the Houston Texans have agreed to a three year deal with wide receiver Jacoby Jones. The deal is worth $10.5 million dollars with $3.5 million guaranteed.
I am not as surprised by this deal as both sides professed their desire to stick together, but I am surprised no receiver desperate team (Chicago? Washington? New York?) didn't jump in and offer more. I guess those eyes are focused are bigger name receivers.
As for Jones, he's a significant part of the Texans offense. He's coming off a career-high 51 receptions and 562 yards. After a first half filled with drops, Jones averaged about five catches and 72 yards in the last month of the season. Surprisingly, Jones rated out with the highest catch rate of any Texans receiver, according to Football Outsiders, and is top-15 in the entire league for 2010.
I know some think Houston overpaid, but they didn't. I think the price is pretty fair market value for a receiver that is a 2 to some, a 3 to others, and one-half of the best second receiver to one in particular.
However you view him on the depth chart, the Texans needed the veteran third receiver. David Anderson has not been able to overtake Jones, despite his former stint in Gary Kubiak's doghouse, and Dorin Dickerson played 38 snaps last year while trying to make the transition to receiver. Even if the Texans have shied away from using Jones as the deep-ball threat he is (see: 2009), Jacoby can still provide the team with another weapon if he continues to play as he did during the second half of the season.
Continue to check SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans news and notes as Houston continues to be connected to Vonta Leach, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Eric Weddle.
Some news and notes as we round up day one of the free agency free-for-all frenzy. Your Houston Texans made some moves as they re-signed reserve defensive tackle Damione Lewis to a one-year deal. Many, like Chron.com's Lance Zierlein, believe adding cheap defensive line depth like Lewis is the nail in the coffin that is Amobi Okoye's career. We'll see about this one on Thursday when teams can cut players.
To the surprise of many, the Texans agreed to a deal with reserve swing tackle Rashad Butler. Butler, who just yesterday said he was on his way out of Texas, chose the Texans over the Washington Redskins. The deal is worth $3.8 million dollars with $1.25 million guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson.
FOX26 reports that the Texans, including head coach Gary Kubiak, reached out to the agent of All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach. Despite signing two undrafted free agents, the Texans have shown they want to re-sign Leach and keep the starting offense together.
Matt Leinart has been linked to Seattle but claims no decision has been made as he weighs his options. Seattle agreed to terms with Tavaris Jackson and did invest in Charlie Whitehurst, so there's no guarantees for Leinart in Seattle. It's believed that Houston would like to retain Leinart and release the ineffective Dan Orlousky.
Aside from being heavily in pursuit of the two, no official news has come out about Nnamdi Asomugha and Eric Weddle. Stay tuned to SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for all your Texans free agency news.
They are as follows:
LSU wide receiver Terrance Toliver
Florida Atlantic wide receiver Lestar Jean
Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl
Montana-Carroll fullback Justin "Bubba" Bartlett
Temple offensive tackle Darius Morris
Colorado State fullback Zac Pauga
Tulane offensive tackle Peter Hendrickson
Rutgers guard Howard Bargieri
Florida State linebacker Mister Alexander (my new favorite Texans name by the way)
West Texas A&M linebacker Bryan Braman
Virginia Tech linebacker Steven Friday
Virginia defensive end Zane Parr
Virginia Tech defensive end John Graves
California cornerback Darian Hagan
TCU cornerback Jason Teague
Louisiana-Lafayette safety Maurice Rolle
Oklahoma defensive tackle Adrian Taylor
Central Michigan punter Brett Hartmann
It is absurdly early, but if I had to place money on players to make the 53-man roster and/or 8-man practice squad, I’d place money on Toliver, Maehl, Pauga, Friday, Teague, Taylor, and Hartmann.
Those names are at positions that could have holes in them thanks to free agency, scheme change, or cap casualties. Stay tuned to SB Nation Houston and Battle Red Blog for more on these 18 undrafted free agents and all your Texans news and notes.
According to various reports, the Houston Texans were busy last night signing 18 undrafted free agents to the roster. On top of the other five names revealed at the beginning of this newsstream, four more names have been made public thanks to Twitter and nepatriotsdraft.com.
The four additional names that have been added to the undrafted class of 2011 are: LSU wide receiver Terrance Toliver, Oklahoma defensive end/tackle Adrian Taylor, West Texas A&M linebacker Bryan Braman, and Virginia linebacker Zane Parr.
Teams are mandated to have 90 players in training camp. What we see here is more bodies at linebacker to keep Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans healthy while Adrian Taylor attempts to crack a new defensive line rotation. The interesting player here, and the one who has fans most excited on Twitter, SBNH, and Battle Red Blog, is Toliver.
At 6'4'' and 211-pounds, Toliver has NFL size with 4.5 speed. The former local high school product had an inconsistent career at LSU, but he was able to show up in big games in 2010 as he was named the most outstanding offensive player at the Cotton Bowl with a three touchdown performance against Texas A&M. He also had a two touchdown game against the Florida Gators as a senior.
With hard work and a little luck, Toliver could make some noise in training camp and is one of the rookies to watch for. Stay tuned for more free agency news and notes.
Since NFL teams can start talking to free agents today, news is starting to leak out about the Houston Texans plans. The top player on the free agent market is probably Nnamdi Asomugha, so there will be a lot of teams bidding for him.
The Texans may come through with the highest bid overall, as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted about that very thing and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said much the same thing on NFL Network this morning. Oh, and XM NFL Radio host Tim Ryan also said much the same thing on his drivetime show yesterday. It seems that the Texans are starting out in the pole position on this race.
However, Nnamdi is apparently not just looking at the money. He wants to go to a winner, which is why the Jets could make an attractive option. Apparently, New York is also going after the talented cornerback, which is scary to think he might be paired with Revis Island. Doesn’t sound like the Packers or Cowboys are going to be able to get under the cap enough to make a run at him, so the Jets may be the biggest competitor.
Of course, the Texans can also make the case they’re ready to win big, which means he might get the most money out there AND go to a winning team. That’s what I tell myself as I brace for him going somewhere else.
The NFL Lockout is over and teams cannot waste any time as free agency is set to begin tomorrow. It should be important to note that no one can sign until Friday so you will hear a lot on negotiations and offers. Tonight, however, undrafted free agent rookies can negotiate. According to some sources, they can also sign tonight but let's not get mixed up on night one of the season.
Your Houston Texans have gotten to work on undrafted players by picking up five that we know of. Those five players are Florida Atlantic wide receiver Lester Jean, Colorado State (of course) fullback Zac Pauga, Tulane offensive tackle Pete Hendrickson, Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl, and Carroll College (Montana) fullback/tight end Bubba Bartlett.
Normally, undrafted rookies have a tough time to make a roster. Given the rapid amount of time to learn the offense that will be an even tougher time. More often than not, these guys are just camp bodies to take the abuse and hoping to catch on the practice squad.
Of all of these free agents, Maehl's the most interesting. The 6'0'', 189-pound wide receiver was productive in the Oregon offense with 77 receptions, 1,076 yards, and 12 touchdowns for the Pac-10 conference champions. He's not a burner, but a lot of pre-draft reports had him pegged for a slot role. Given how pass-happy Gary Kubiak can be, Maehl's going to get his opportunities in the pre-season.
Of course, every fan should take note that these players could be part of a contingency plan since they play at positions of three key free agents: Jacoby Jones, Vonta Leach, and Rashad Butler. Butler's already set his mind on playing in Washington while Jacoby has openly said he'd like to return to Houston.
As for the All-Pro fullback, his is a curious case. Leach wants to be the highest paid fullback in the game. While no one's doubting that he's deserving of the cash, the Texans have other needs and Leach only played in 38% of the Texans offensive snaps. If you just need a part-time blocker, you may be able to find one for cheap in Pauga, Bartlett, or James Casey. In other words, fans shouldn't stress too much. A veteran cornerback will have more of an impact on the game, and all eyes are on Rick Smith to deliver, if this is, in fact, his plan.
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