Calculated Free Agents Have Helped the Texans
Teams are not built over night but being able to add the right pieces to an NFL team can make the difference in having a team with real depth. General Manager Rick Smith took some tough criticism with his moves running this organization but he has learned on the run and got this franchise going in the right direction. It takes the draft to build for the future, but it takes looking at the free agent pool to sign solid NFL talent.
It is impressive looking at what Smith has been able to do with the free agents he has signed that are currently on this team. Since 2009, he has made calculated moves that are paying off now in one of their most exciting seasons in franchise history. Look at how many key players the Texans have brought in via free agency.
Take a look at the group:
Shaun Cody (signed from the Detroit Lions)
The Texans starting nose tackle during the 2012 season, Cody has started 51 of the 53 games since coming to Houston. Cody was an average player in Detroit and his first couple seasons in Houston, then Wade Phillips showed up and made him a vital piece to the run defense. Cody is coming to the end of his current contract with the team but having him as the anchor of the middle of the defense makes his value high during the 2012 season.
Antonio Smith (signed from the Arizona Cardinals)
Coming off a Super Bowl appearance, Smith was brought in to be the bookend opposite Mario Williams. Smith, at times, played very undisciplined at the defensive end position and was part of one of the worst defenses in franchise history. Not a big fan of going to the 3-4 defense, Smith rejuvenated his career and was a disruptive force from the inside in 2011. Off to a slow start in 2012, he put together a great game against the Baltimore Ravens and showed some life. Smith has started 51 of his 52 career games and tallied 19 sacks with the Texans since coming from Arizona.
Wade Smith (signed from the Kansas City Chiefs)
To me one of the more underrated signings by the Texans, Wade Smith has stabilized the left side of the offensive line. He has put together 39 starts in as many games with the Texans and become a solid line mate next to All-Pro Duane Brown. Brown has said how important Smith has been to his development as a professional and how much he has learned from him since they started playing next to each other. One more season and Smith will be an unrestricted free agent, but his value to the team has been more than what happens on the field.
Quintin Demps (Signed from the Philadelphia Eagles)
Demps has been with the Texans since 2010 but really made a name for himself in 2011. He was signed late in the 2010 season to fill a roster spot to end the season, but after being cut after the 2011 training camp it looked like Demps was done in Houston. Danieal Manning was injured last season on an interception and Demps was brought back and the rest is history. Now he is the starting dime safety for the defense. Demps was injured this season with a broken thumb and forearm but it looks like he is close to coming back. He is another player who many teams wanted nothing to do with, but has made his home here in Houston.
Johnathan Joseph (Signed from the Cincinnati Bengals)
All-Pro and shutdown cornerback in his first season in Houston, Joseph is arguably the best corner in Texans’ history after one full season. With 22 starts for the team, Joseph has helped the back end of the defense and gave the Texans a legitimate play maker in the secondary. Brought in to transform the defense, he has done that and brought an edge to the attitude of the team. Joseph sticks up for his teammates when needed and is a true team player.
Danieal Manning (Signed from the Chicago Bears)
Manning too was brought in to give the Texans a real safety after what the team had in Eugene Wilson and Bernard Pollard in 2010. Manning provided a veteran with Super Bowl experience and a safety that can cover from sideline to sideline. He has really turned into a new player in 2012, being comfortable in the second year of the defense and being the leader of the defense. He has started 20 games for the Texans.
Tim Dobbins (Signed from the Miami Dolphins)
He was brought in during the second day of training camp in 2010, was relatively an unknown player and considered a camp body. This late addition only turned into the special teams captain at the halfway point of the 2011 season and played a huge part in the short yardage defense during the season. In the divisional playoff game against the Ravens, he stood up Ray Rice in a key 4th down moment to keep the Texans’ hopes alive to win the game. Now in 2012, Dobbins is still the special teams captain and due to injury is now the starting inside linebacker for the defense. He is a tough downhill player who will be a key piece to the Texans’ playoff hopes this season.
Justin Forsett (Signed from the Seattle Seahawks)
Brought in to be the third running back, he has proved to be a big addition especially with Ben Tate fighting to stay healthy. Forsett helps on special teams and has the ability to return kicks and punts when needed. Forsett also brings in another veteran with playoff experience.
Bradie James (Signed from the Dallas Cowboys)
His knowledge of the defense is the reason he was brought in and with Cushing’s injury the success of the defense falls on his shoulders, especially in the run support. James’ snaps have gone up and now he will be depended on to be more than a two down linebacker. He has started every game since coming to Houston this season and is another veteran with leadership that the Texans will depend on.
Alan Ball (Signed from the Dallas Cowboys)
Plenty of fans were worried about him in coverage but Ball has been one of the top special teams players for the Texans this season. His versatility to play cornerback or safety in a pinch will keep him active the entire season, but will be a last option if needed. Drafted by Phillips in Dallas, Ball produces for him and looks to be a decent addition this season after all.
Ryan Harris (Signed from the Denver Broncos)
Injuries had plagued Harris since his Denver days, but a necessity signing this season to push second year player Derek Newton. Harris has been the better player at the right tackle this season and he has helped give the Texans a seasoned veteran who knows the system. The Texans picked up a starting right tackle off the street who is helping the offense week to week.