One of the primary things looming on our sports calendar is March 3, the date that most handicappers think the NFLPA and the NFL need to get a deal done by before the impending lockout will be shoved down our throats. Reasonable sides can come together on this one, and there will be plenty of time for them to talk turkey and for us to get sick of both sides.
But what happens if the lockout really stretches out here, and starts cutting into regular season games? There are a few possible consequences of this that loom poorly for the Texans, who I'd think would have more incentive then most teams towards getting a possible lockout over with in a reasonable amount of time.
Say anything you want about the Texans defense in a negative tone last year, and odds are that you were probably right. Mario Williams was hurt, Antonio Smith draws penalties like Antonio Cromartie creates children, Zac Diles and Kareem Jackson were probably the worst players in the NFL at their position last year. Frank Bush was playing War while offensive coordinators were playing Omaha.
Wade Phillips could have a defense as complex and awesome as the Large Hadron Collider, but the fact of the matter remains that the Texans defense needs a major transfusion of talent to approach anything other than mediocre. Because of the intricacies of the lockout schedule, only the NFL Draft will be completed for sure this offseason. Free agency can only be instituted via the lockout ending, and without free agency, the Texans are likely to not be able to assemble the kind of talent that they need to really turn things around on defense.
While this scenario would seem to lead towards a team drafting almost exclusively for need, one has to keep in mind that the Texans greatest need, cornerback, is a position that you don't often find a player ready to contribute right away at. Patrick Peterson will likely not be there at No. 11, maybe Prince Amukamara will be there, but can he be a solid NFL cornerback right from the start? Again, the odds are against it if you look at the recent past; most teams need their corners to learn for a year or two before they're actually ready to start.
Could the Texans defense fill some areas of need in this draft? Absolutely. Will they fill enough of them to come up with a quality defense if free agency is wiped out this year? Not very likely. For that reason more than any other, Texans fans should be pulling for a swift resolution to the lockout. If the sides can't agree early enough for the the Texans to shop around a bit in free agency, then it's pretty likely the Texans will be wasting another year of Andre Johnson's prime with a defense that doesn't deserve to play in the NFL.