For the upcoming 2017 season the secondary for the Houston Texans remains a question mark. Who stays? Who goes? Does anyone change positions? These are all possibilities within the position group. Pending free agent A.J. Bouye was recently on radio row this week and stated he wants to return to the Houston Texans; but also understands there is a strong market available for his services. The full article on this visit can be found here on Scout by PatDStat.
Will Bouye return to the Texans? That is very hard to determine at this point in time. My expectation has been that the Texans will make their initial offer and let Bouye seek out his market value during the “legal tampering” period slated for March 7th – 9th. The Texans are scheduled to be a Top 12 team in terms of spending on cornerbacks without Bouye on the roster, and a new contract for Bouye would push the team into the Top 3, if not number 1. General Manager Rick Smith has routinely spoken on the idea of “you can never have enough cornerbacks”.
If the Texans were to retain Bouye then cornerback group would be a Top 3 (performance wise) unit once again with Bouye, Joseph, Johnson, and Jackson. The Texans’ defense spends more time in nickel & dime formations than base leaving three cornerbacks on the field. With the re-occurring injuries to Joseph, Jackson, and Johnson (none of which was active for 16 games in 2016) the need for Bouye becomes even greater. But there are other questions to be answered within the group as well; if Bouye was retained.
Does the team retain Johnathan Joseph? Joseph turns 33 in April and is due $6.5 million in cash for the 2017 season; and would become a free agent in 2018. Joseph would be ranked 26th in the league for cash when compared to other cornerbacks, per OverTheCap. Maybe the team could reach another extension with Joseph and lower his salary for the 2017 season? Joseph has a salary cap charge of $6.906 million cap charge for 2017 at this time, which also ranks 26th among other cornerbacks. In that context it may be difficult to approach Joseph about a contract renegotiation given his consistent performance over the years. As with any potential renegotiation the team must be prepared to release the player if their answer is no.
Will Kevin Johnson make a full recovery from his latest foot injury? Johnson had two surgeries in early 2016 (foot and wrist); and recently had another foot surgery in December 2016. The team will have to make a determination on Johnson’s status pretty quickly to make a decision on Bouye.
Kareem Jackson…the safety? Recently @PatDStat noted on Twitter that Kareem Jackson spent some of the first half of the Patriots game playing the safety position.
RAC was using Kareem Jackson as the safety next to Andre Hal in the first series. Bouye and Joseph at the CBs.
— patrick (@PatDStat) January 19, 2017
Moving Jackson to safety could cover two issues: 1) Opens up the option to resign Bouye and 2) Possibly negates the need to resign free agent safety Quintin Demps.
Speaking of Quintin Demps the journeyman safety had a banner year in 2016 including 6 interceptions (tied for 2nd in the NFL). Demps’ cash flow for the 2016 season was $1.45 million. However given his success in 2016 it is rumored that Demps could be looking for a multiyear contract approaching $5 million per year. The Texans have not spent a respectable amount of cash on the safety position since the Ed Reed debacle. In 2016 the Texans were 27th in positional spending on Safety when compared to other NFL teams. Letting Demps walk would be the prudent move if another team is willing to meet his contract requests. Most, if not all, of Demps’ success over the years has come when he is playing in Crennel’s system. Maybe that will play a part in Demps’ decision, but I would doubt it since this will be Demps’ last chance to score a contract that pays him above the league minimum.
Currently the Texans have five (5) cornerbacks & six (6) safeties under contract for the 2017 season. It will be interesting to watch this situation unfold in the coming months, especially on March 9th when free agency officially opens for the league.
Would you pay A.J. Bouye top market value to retain him? What other moves at cornerback & safety would you make? Leave your comments below with your thoughts.