People love to say things off record this time of year. They provide scoops that never come to fruition. They make predictions that are no different than the ones that come from hunched backs supplying comment and reply sections on sites like t his.
In a slightly different variation, ESPN spoke to a variety of unknown (spooooooky) NFL Insiders about upcoming free agents. They talked about everyone from Jameis Winston to A.J. Green. Somewhere between those two falls D.J. Reader.
Reader’s unrestricted free agency is one of the big decisions that the Texans have to make this offseason. They can tag him, tag and trade him, sign him to a long-term extension, or let him run off to another team somewhere. Do you go all in on a player who didn’t rush the passer well once Week Six came? Do you know that stopping the pass is more important than the run? How difficult will it be to pay a premium run defender this much with the cap space hurdles the Texans will soon be navigating thanks to the inevitable Laremy Tunsil and Deshaun Watson extensions? These are the questions the Texans have to answer before they make a decision on what to do with Reader.
The mystery NFL men quoted in the aforementioned article had the following to say:
This is our candidate for a sneaky-big payout.
Reader’s modest production (28 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2019) isn’t dissuading evaluators from placing him high on their lists of unheralded free agents awaiting millions.
Reader has become an every-down player, which isn’t easy for a 347-pounder to do. He can rush the passer and stop the run. He’s a Pro Football Focus favorite, with a strong 86.7 overall rating.
”The way they talk about Reader [in Houston] on and off the field — he’ll be very attractive,” one AFC evaluator said. “I hear nothing but good things as a player and person.”
Houston would like to keep Reader for pass-rush help alongside J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but the Texans must pay Laremy Tunsil and others, and this late in the free-agency game, Reader’s best move will be to test his worth to the 31 other teams.
As the anonymous NFL executive noted, Reader is a very good player. He’s a very good person. Some NFL franchise is going to pay him a lot of money. The question left to be answered is whether the Houston Texans are going to be that franchise.