March 15, 2006
Second Verse, Same as the First
by Keith Weiland
One might expect major changes on a football team after a 2-14 season, but things seem to move a bit slower here in Houston. Sure, the Texans replaced their ineffective coaching staff in January, but little else seems all that different this offseason from the previous offseasons around Reliant Park.
• The Texans, owners of the first pick in the draft, have successfully eliminated the pre-draft mystery four months ahead of schedule, same as they did with David Carr in 2002. Reggie Bush’s name is already on the Texans’ notecard, ready for delivery to the podium. I’m just waiting for Reggie Bush to show up in a minor car accident report wearing a Texans cap, same as Carr once did… more than a month before the draft.
• Speaking of Carr, the team’s first order of business for player management this offseason was to reward him with a three-year extension and an $8 million bonus. Makes sense, right? Two wins last season equals $24 million for the next three seasons. You see, it’s simple when you break down the math.
So the Texans are obviously followers of trickle down economics. Sign Carr, and the wins will start trickling in… any season now… just you wait. And wait. Carr already has a built-in excuse for further ineptitude this season since it will be his first year under a new coach and offensive system. That means he now has five – count ‘em five! – years of consequence-free (and competition-free) NFL experience. Most lottery winners aren’t this lucky.
• The offensive line was an issue, again, last season. So what’s the offseason plan to fix it? Retain nearly all of last year’s unit and assign blame to everything but the linemen themselves. Maybe this group just needs more time to gel, huh? Learn a new system? Why does that sound so familiar?
• Switching to a 4-3 defensive front, the Texans rushed out to give a $12 million signing bonus to Anthony Weaver, a terrific 3-4 defensive end. Uh, doesn’t this team already have enough 3-4 linemen? They must since they released Gary Walker to eat more than $7 million in dead money on the cap. Yummy!
Ah, but I’ll try to be fair. There have been a couple changes this offseason, like at backup quarterback. The Texans sent Tony Banks packing – who by the way is the only quarterback this franchise has had with a winning record as a starter – to give more than double his signing bonus of a year ago to… drumroll please… Sage Rosenfels!
Don’t remember Rosenfels? He was a castoff of the 2005 Dolphins, perhaps the most quarterback-needy team in recent memory. Rosenfels has just two starts in his career, which is exactly zero more than the Texans’ other more cap-friendly backup quarterback, Dave Ragone.
If that’s got you a bit punch drunk, just chase it down with this thought: Rosenfels is just one heartbeat away from starting this season. Gulp.
I’ll give Casserly credit for this though: the Rosenfels signing took the heat off him for giving an eight-digit bonus to Weaver and a $5 million contract to Jameel Cook, a fullback who might not even start if incumbent Moran Norris beats him in camp.
It’s not that I don’t like these new signees as players; they all seem like good guys who might even upgrade the overall talent on the team if you squint a little. It’s just the money this team spends in free agency each year for middling talent is akin to the cash Britney Spears fronts Kevin Federline so he can keep buying those trucker hats and tank tops.
So I’m gonna preach abstinence to my little franchise as it grows its pubes. The Texans would have been better off delaying the quick and easy satisfaction of free agency until they are really prepared to get serious about making this baby ready for postseason glory. Free agency is too expensive, and it isn’t for everyone.
As the saying goes, “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Man, ain’t that the stink of it. Every year.
Other teams find a way though. Last weekend alone, the Browns rebuilt their offensive line through free agency, signing two guys (LeCharles Bentley and Kevin Shaffer) to contracts worth a total of $72 million. The Vikings signed guard Steve Hutchinson to an offer sheet for a seven-year contract worth a reported $49 million. There hasn’t been so much green smuggled in an offensive lineman’s pockets since Nate Newton was pulled over by state troopers five years ago.
But the Texans landed Rosenfels and a fullback. Wait, was that Newton’s van I saw leaving Reliant Park on Sunday?
If the Texans were really going to get serious about signing a good, young free agent, they should have negotiated further with wide receiver David Givens. After rejecting an offer from the Texans, Givens signed for a palatable $8 million signing bonus over five years with the Titans. Oh no, not them. The Titans front office, addressing several similar needs to the Texans, is now running circles around Reliant Park. They signed a center (Kevin Mawae) and a linebacker (David Thornton), and they also retained a defensive end (Kyle Vanden Bosch) for less money than the Texans paid to Weaver.
Oh, but the Texans might sign receiver Kevin Walters, assuming the Bengals don’t match a very matchable offer sheet to keep him. The Texans better hope they don’t match because there’s not much left now in free agency at the receiver position. And don’t start talking about signing quarterback killer Terrell Owens to the roster. Adding Owens to an offense led by Carr would be like enrolling a porn star in a sex ed class taught by an eighth grader.
So here we go again. Maybe the Texans should have saved us all the trouble by just sitting out this year, avoiding their annual free agency anal raping altogether. Signing these multi-million dollar contracts hasn’t worked for them in any of their first four seasons, and things don’t look all that much better in the fifth.
I just can’t wait to see what busts the team selects in the second and third rounds in next month’s draft. I mean, that’s what’s next, right?
Yes, Keith Weiland can predict the future. Tight end Bennie Joppru will once again find himself on the injured reserve by the end of the first week of training camp as the ground will open up beneath him, swallow him whole, then spit him completely back out except for his ACL, which the earth will have officially deemed as quite tasty.
Sage Rosenfels Home