Mike Florio of profootballtalk.com relayed a report today by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that, as expected, the minimum number of years for unrestricted free agency will move back to four years when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
This isn’t news of course.
Back on March 3, the guy who writes this column explained that several of the Texans restricted free agent tenders offered prior to the lockout would be rendered meaningless once a new CBA was signed.
Read: “Texans RFA tenders meaningless when new CBA is signed”
It’s just becoming more real now – given the Schefter report and the alleged progress in negotiations – that Texans swing tackle Rashad Butler and wide receiver Jacoby Jones are getting closer to becoming former Texans.
Butler filled in capably for Texans left tackle Duane Brown last season when Brown was suspended for four games for violating the league’s policy for performance enhancing drugs.
Butler’s performance was basically an audition for the upcoming free agency period. I’m certain there’s an NFL team out there that will offer him starter money at right tackle so you can color him gone.
I took some flak for suggesting that the Texans should draft a swing tackle this year as a hedge against injury to Brown or Eric Winston and the likely loss of Butler, but now it appears that second year player Cole Pemberton and rookie seventh rounder Derek Newton will compete for that role unless there’s a plan to sign a free agent. Starting left guard Wade Smith can kick out to tackle in emergency situations but that’s not an ideal long term solution.
Jones has been wildly inconsistent during his four year career with the Texans but his sometimes-realized potential as an explosive game breaker could be just enough for another team to offer him WR2 money.
And even though Gary Kubiak acknowledges that he doesn’t want to lose Jones because of the investment they’ve made in his development, I don’t think the Texans will put their money where Gary’s mouth is when the unrestricted free agent frenzy begins, possibly as soon as three weeks from now.
Jones had his most productive year with the Texans in 2010 with 51 catches for 562 yards and 3 TDs. He had 6 TD catches in 2009
The Texans gave Kevin Walter a five-year, $21.5 million contract with $11 million guaranteed back in March, 2010 and based on past spending habits, I don’t see the Texans having two receivers on the roster behind Andre Johnson making that kind of money – unless the new CBA and business plan for the league unlocks a new bucket of money for Bob McNair to spend.
But if the money’s there for McNair to spend, it’s there for other teams as well.
The problem with allowing Jacoby to walk is that it leaves the Texans with no receiver opposite Andre Johnson that can stretch the field.
Walter is a decent receiver but doesn’t draw double coverage. David Anderson is a good situational receiver – coming out of the slot to make that tough catch over the middle or on the sideline on third down – but he’s not a deep threat.
Second year players Dorin Dickerson and Derrick Townsel would be next in line to compete for Jones’ slot should he jump to another team.
Dickerson (6-2, 225) has better size and athleticism and it would probably be his job to lose, but whether he can take the next step and become a legitimate threat at wide receiver would remain to be seen.