Texans mailbag: Free agency, RBs, draft

Texans mailbag: Free agency, RBs, draft
March 19, 2014, 2:00 pm
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The NFL is deep into free agency and the Texans have been relatively quiet.

We're still over a month away from the draft and the Texans have the first pick. But fans have plenty of questions. I asked for them and you delivered. So let's take a dip into the mailbag.


I'm guessing you're talking about general manager Rick Smith and not the rapper Slick Rick. I don't think the Texans employ the latter.

But the former has made it through the Gary Kubiak era. The norm in the NFL is for a GM to get two head coaches. This is a basic formula but so far Smith has had just Kubiak and he didn't hire him.

This question is even harder to answer because we don't really know how power is distributed between Smith and new head coach Bill O'Brien but it seems like O'Brien has a lot of the say.

For now, it seems like Smith is safe. But his future might depend on his relationship with O'Brien. If the two get along and agree on most things, his future looks better. If he doesn't, things could get iffy.

By my count, the Texans have six safeties under contract: Danieal Manning, D.J. Swearinger, Shiloh Keo, Jawanza Starling, Eddie Pleasant and Steven Terrell.

Out of that group, Manning and Swearinger look like the starters and Shiloh Keo and Eddie Pleasant are pretty solid backups.

All the name safeties from this free agent market are gone and the Texans wouldn’t have paid for any of them anyway (remember how Ed Reed worked out?) So if the Texans wanted to pick up a free agent safety, it would be a second-tier guy and they already have decent second-tier guys in Keo and Pleasant.

Really, the Texans have far more pressing needs than safety, so they might sign one but don’t expect a starter to come through free agency.

Well, Foster will be the starter in 2014. He recently tweeted that he’s been cleared, which is good news for the Texans.

He still has three more years on his contract and it’s fair to wonder how much of a toll all of his carries have taken on his body. His best days might be behind him because he’s had some really good days. From 2010 to 2012, he was second in the league in rushing yards with 4,264, just 101 behind Adrian Peterson. But even with missing a lot of last year, his 1,077 carries since 2010 still rank third in the league.

Foster still has a chance to get a couple more seasons out of his body and I expect the Texans to stick with him if he does. At the very least, they’re counting on him in 2014.

But don’t be surprised if the Texans draft a running back this year. They will have a chance to nab a really good running back with either their third- or fourth-round pick. I really like some of the running backs coming out this year, starting with Bishop Sankey and Tre Mason.

1.) I like Zach Mettenberger a lot. He’d be my choice of the quarterbacks after the first three. I’d rank him above A.J. McCarron, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo and Aaron Murray. I really want to see how he performs at the LSU pro day, especially coming off that ACL tear. If the Texans choose to take Jadeveon Clowney with the first-overall pick, Mettenberger might be an option at the top of the second.

2.) The Texans signed nose tackle Jerrell Powe on Tuesday. He’s a 6-2, 330-pound nose tackle, who has played sparingly in his three NFL seasons. He’s the only nose tackle on the roster right now, so I suppose he’d be the starter. But he’ll very likely end up being a depth player and fighting for a roster spot. It does speak to the influence of Romeo Crennel, though.

3.) Not sure about specific free agents. They have some needs. They still need more defensive linemen. They could use another offensive tackle. And maybe they want to find an inside linebacker to play next to Cushing. Either way, they need a linebacker. They can find an outside linebacker and move Brooks Reed inside if they want.

I already answered the free agent question above.

But with Schaub, it makes sense that the Texans are trying to shop him. Of course they are. If possible, they’d love to trade him and his $14.5 million cap number away. The only reason a team would trade for him is if they want the best possible chance to get him. If Schaub was released, he’d be the No. 1 quarterback on the market.

Sure, the Raiders have plenty of cap room but they can’t just spend it on bad contracts. They have to spend it wisely. They should be smart enough to wait and see if Schaub gets cut. It’s a waiting game for a reason, every team wants to get the best deal. If the Texans think they can get something out of Schaub, why rush to cut him?

When a team has the first-overall pick, the rest of the rounds do seem to get lost. The reality is, the Texans will have the best pick in all seven rounds of the draft and have a chance to get some really good players.

But that second pick really depends on the first one. If they take a quarterback first, they are free to take another position. But if they take Clowney, it’s much more likely they go quarterback in the second round.

As far as Borland, I don’t see it. He’s an inside linebacker, which means with the Texans he would be a two-down player and not worth that high of a draft pick.

I have a few names of interest: DE Kony Ealy, OT, Zach Martin, OLB Ryan Shazier.