John McClain is reporting that the Texans have signed DE Antonio Smith, (now) formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans inked Smith to a five year, $35 million dollar contract which includes $12.5 million in guaranteed money.
Smith was drafted in 2004 by Arizona after playing his collegiate career for Oklahoma State. Smith was only active for 2 games his rookie year, but participated in 12 games in 2005, including 8 games started. In the last three years, he has played all 16 games and averaged 10 starts a season. Smith has 14.5 career sacks in four years.
Smith's sack totals may not be earth-shattering, but he played the role of LDE, which required less pass rush and more run stuffing. Smith has tallied 84 tackles, including 68 solo, in the last two years alone. Smith appears to fill the void that Anothony Weaver was originally supposed to occupy.
Smith's contract seems overly generous at first glance, and it may be, but not to the extent it appears. Defensive lineman are the third highest paid players in the league on average, following only QBs and OTs. Still, Smith will be making 7 million a year, which some of the Houston faithful will think is a little too much. Smith raised his stock by recording 5.5 sacks in the last 11 games of the season (including the playoffs), showing that he can play as a run stuffer by the standards of a 4-3 DE or pass rusher by those of a 3-4 DE.
This casts doubt as to whether the Texans will be targeting a DE in the first round because the total of that unknown rookie's, Smith's and Super Mario's salaries would be a significant amount of the Texans' cap. This brings about a lot of different questions to my mind regarding Frank Bush's defense. I'll start writing the post now; should be done soon.