Except for, obviously, that mention in the title.
The guys over at Pro Football Focus breakdown each team for the potential scramble that will be NFL free agency. This morning, they broke down the AFC South. As the title states, there was shockingly no mention of a certain free agent All-Pro cornerback. At this point, I figured everyone was contractually obligated to make that one move the focal point of any Texans free agency story.
Still, the PFF analysts threw out some names for free agent that needed to be retained and free agent that makes the most sense. Let's see how spot on they were after the jump.
For the retained position, Sam Monson went after everyone's favorite pass-dropper - Jacoby Jones. Monson makes the case that Houston would miss his play-making ability. When used properly (see 2009 or the latter half of 2010), that's true. Jones provides a true vertical threat that can force the safeties to hesitate or get burned. However, there are some consistency issues that have made some wonder aloud if it'd be a big loss to lose Jones.
Khaled Elsayed felt that no free agent would be a big loss for the Texans. Vonta Leach probably doesn't want to hear that, but I've seen this opinion shared by most Texans fans. With replacements in tow (Dorin Dickerson and James Casey), there's no real hole in the roster if free agents weren't retained...except one.
I would say losing Rashad Butler might be a bigger deal than some realize. Behind Eric Winston and Duane Brown, there's nothing but Butler, who played admirably during Brown's four-game suspension. With only seventh-round rookie Derek Newton on the roster, there could be trouble if one of those starting tackles went down. If there's a hole in the line then that could lead to a Dan Orlovsky sighting and no one wants that.
As they discussed fits for Houston, Monson went Eric Weddle while Elsayed said Johnathan Joseph. If Rick Smith could pull off that duo then it would be quite the coup. Combined,. both would probably cost the same per season as Nnamdi Asomugha, maybe a little more. However, both would fit the scheme to a T and be well worth the cost.
Weddle's a great hybrid safety who can cover, tackle, and would provide veteran leadership to a young secondary. With Weddle and Quin, safety would potentially turn from a joke to the defense's strength. Joseph is someone who has been a starter in the league for a while and can handle that role very well. He likes to get physical, can read plays well, and often gets a hand on the pass (averaging 15 passes defensed and three interceptions per season).
Honestly, for those lost in Nnamdimania, the PFF guys certainly provide a viable, if not more intriguing, alternative. We'll soon find out if Houston's planning to go guns blazing for a premiere defensive piece or if their eyes are on multiple good pieces.