There's been a lot of doom and gloom this offseason. First of all, there's been a cloud hanging over the NFL for the last two years since the owners opted out of the last collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, for fans of the Houston Texans, there has been the nasty business of falling very short of expectations. Will Gary Kubiak get fired? Will Rick Smith stay to hire the next head coach? Who will be hired to coach the defense? These are all questions that have been answered, and many have found those answers to be sub-standard. I myself, while not happy about a lack of regime change, have been on record as being pleased with the Wade Phillips hiring, even though I was not happy with the hiring process.
Sometimes I have to wonder if my faith in Phillips and his ability to work with the other two that kept their jobs is misplaced. Surely, as HDH Chris hypothesized, the Earl Mitchell-is-our-nose-tackle talk is a smoke screen. Yesterday, lost in the Combine and labor issue news, Shaun Rogers quietly signed a one-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. Rogers, who previously said that he'd love to play in Houston, took $2 million dollars less to play in New Orleans than another offer because it was important to him to play for a desirable team. Follow the jump to find out why I think this was the biggest Texans news item of the day yesterday.
I'm not angry that the Texans didn't sign Rogers. I'm seethingly angry that they apparently didn't make an attempt. I know that many of you were against signing Rogers for a myriad of reasons, and it looks as if the front office shared your concerns. If the Texans inconspicuously made an offer that was turned down by Rogers, I apologize for being reactionary, but this smells of the same misplaced pickiness that has continuously killed the Texans.
The Texans don't have a nose tackle on the roster. There is no free agency this year, or at least none before the draft. Even if the plan is to draft a nose tackle, it takes time to develop defensive linemen in the NFL and that player will probably not be ready to start right away. Even if he was, men who are big enough to play that position usually get gassed, so it's good to have depth at the position. Shaun Rogers would have provided a quality backup at the very least.
Being able to sign that kind of role player in a season without free agency would have been huge because the team could go into the draft knowing that nose tackle was at least partially covered, so Rick Smith would be able to refrain from reaching for the position. As it stands now, there is a good chance that will happen, or the team will overpay a free agent whenever that occurs. What would the peace of mind cost that Rogers could provide cost? A one-year, $4 million dollar contract. Rogers, who is 31, will surely be motivated to show he's worth one more multi-year contract before the wheels fall off.
If anyone should realize that they can't afford to be picky, it's Rick Smith and Gary Kubiak. They should realize that they need to pull out all the stops to show immediate improvement to keep the mob at bay, the same mob that almost cost them their jobs last season. The only justification I can think of as to why they didn't even make a run at Rogers or safety OJ Atogwe is because the cuts they made two weeks ago were in preparation to make a run at a marquis free agent or two after the CBA is in place. That might be wishful thinking, but I'm going to cling to that hope.
Give us something to work with, Rick. It's getting harder and harder to believe.