Join Date: May 2004
FO:4 downs -Houston Texans
Four Downs: AFC South
by Aaron Schatz
Never Badder than Bad
Last year, the Texans had a tough choice to make: either give David Carr an $8 million roster bonus, or cut him, admit their first-ever draft pick was a mistake, and start over. The Texans decided to pay the roster bonus in the hope that new head coach Gary Kubiak could tutor Carr and help him realize his potential.
One year later, that experiment seems to be over. Ignore the fact that Carr led the league with a completion percentage of 68.3 percent; that’s simply a function of an offense that consisted almost entirely of short curls, quick slants, and passes to the flat. Carr finished 28th in our DVOA stats — not bottom of the barrel, but below-average and clearly a hole in the offense.
The Texans have been talking to other teams about trading Carr, but they aren’t getting many bites. Early rumors had them seeking a third-round pick, but if some team was going to give up a third-round pick for Carr, they would have done it already. For weeks now, stories out of Houston have gone back and forth. The Texans are trading Carr. The Texans are keeping Carr. The Texans are trying to trade Carr again.
In just the last week, we’ve had two completely contradictory reports. Adam Schefter of NFL Network says that “after watching the college quarterbacks this weekend and further assessing the potential free-agent class, the Houston Texans came away even more convinced that David Carr will be their quarterback this season.” The Dayton Daily News says that Cleveland and Houston are discussing a Carr deal. (Why on earth the Browns would want that contract on their hands is another question, of course.)
The general assumption — by general, I mean by every human being on the planet who watches professional football — is that Carr would be replaced by Kubiak’s former student Jake Plummer, who is sitting on the trading block over in Denver. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Apparently, Plummer is actually considering retirement, rather than a year of defensive linemen sitting on top of him while he enjoys nine different flavors of grass and turf (not counting the preseason).
It’s time for the Texans to move on at the quarterback position, and the best way to do that is without Carr. Based on last year’s offensive game plan, it seems pretty clear that Kubiak has given up him, and keeping him for another years means another year of spinning the wheels and throwing more than 10 yards once a week. And it would be awkward if the former quarterback of the future has to keep the seat warm for the next quarterback of the future, be that Kevin Kolb or Drew Stanton or John Beck or whoever else the Texans feel is worth a gamble in the third or fourth round.
Who Could Leave?
Actually, as of this afternoon we know three players who are definitely leaving. Today, Houston released T Zach Wiegert, DT Seth Payne and WR Eric Moulds. If the Texans were just going to get one year of reasonable but unexciting veteran performance, and then suck up some salary cap ramifications, what was the point of that trade? From what I can tell on this page, Moulds is going to take up $1.25 million of dead space on the 2007 cap.
The Texans don’t have any major players facing free agency. Then again, the Texans don’t have that many major players to begin with. The free agents are generally a bunch of backups and replacement-level guys, who won’t make big news whether they stay or go: DE N.D. Kalu, CB Dexter McCleon, LB Wali Rainer, OT Ephraim Salaam. RB Ron Dayne is the biggest name among the free agents, but he’s nothing special either. TE Mark Bruener is useful for a team that needs a blocker and doesn’t mind that he doesn’t catch passes.
There is one interesting name among the Houston free agents: Antwan Peek. Peek showed potential as a pass-rushing linebacker when the Texans ran a 3-4, but was completely ineffective as a defensive end when they went to the 4-3. He could be a real sleeper if one of those genius defense-minded 3-4 head coaches — Belichick, Mangini, Phillips — can use him in a role that fits his strengths.
Finally, Chad Stanley: the Texans punt a lot and aren’t very good at it, so they might as well try someone else in 2007.
Whom Should They Sign? (Projected Cap Space: $19.8 million*)
Seriously, what don’t the Texans need? They have a promising young tight end but could use a second one. There’s plenty of room for receiver depth behind Andre Johnson as well as cornerback depth behind Dunta Robinson. Eric Winston is going to play right tackle, Mario Williams is set at right defensive end, and the Texans rock at middle linebacker. Otherwise, every position is up for discussion.
The Texans don’t need a position, they need an idea: the future. It isn’t going to happen right away for this team, so they need to sign players who will still be useful if Kubiak can make a playoff run in 2008 or 2009.