Texans clean out their lockers
Change comes with every NFL offseason, no matter how good or bad the team was. But with the 2-14 Texans, the changes will probably be more dramatic.
Two of the veteran leaders of the last few seasons are free agents and might not return: defensive end Antonio Smith and offensive guard Wade Smith.
Both 32, Antonio Smith has been with the Texans since 2009 and Wade Smith has been with them since 2010. Both have offered a veteran presence in the locker room.
“Ah man, Tone, the ultimate leader of this team, great teammate,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “Words can’t even describe what he meant for this team, not just as a guy on the field, just in the locker room, his presence and things like that. Anytime it’s a possibility of losing a guy like that, it’s going to hit everybody pretty hard in the locker room.”
Antonio Smith has started 77 games for the Texans in his five seasons and has recorded at least four sacks each year. This year he had five sacks after having seven last season. He had a base salary just north of $5.5 million and a cap hit of over $9 million in 2013, his final year under contract.
Wade Smith has started all but one game during his four-year stint with the Texans and has played through several significant injuries to do so. Smith had a $3 million base salary in 2013. He’s been a leader for the younger players on offense, especially the offensive linemen.
Offensive guard/center Ben Jones said Wade Smith, along with center Chris Myers, has been the person he’s leaned on a lot in his first two years.
“That’s how the league is,” said Jones, who just finished his second season. “It’s hard to see friends go. If he’s here, I’d be the happiest guy in the world because he’s a great guy, great leader and last year it was the same way when we lost (Antoine) Caldwell. It hurts because he’s one of your buddies. And that’s the thing with offensive linemen, we’re so close. We’re probably one of the closest groups on the team.”