After an initial period of inactivity in free agency, Rick Smith and company eventually joined the fun and chaos by re-signing Garrett Graham and signing Jerrell Powe, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Kendrick Lewis.
Graham was a must re-sign after the Texans cut ties with Owen Daniels. If they had not resigned Graham, the Texans would only have had Ryan Griffin and Zach Potter on the roster at the tight end position. Graham should be an integral part of this season’s offense under Bill O’Brien and has flashed a lot of potential in his time as starting tight end. With him, the Texans will be able to surround whoever is playing quarterback with another dynamic play-maker along with Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and Deandre Hopkins. Graham is a younger, cheaper, and less injury prone (so far) option than Daniels and Graham and Ryan Griffin should form a solid duo when the team implements its two tight end sets.
As for Jerrell Powe, Powe fills a need at nose tackle at a very cheap price. Although some were clamoring for the eventual signing of Vince Wilfork, including myself, the Texans instead opted to sign a cheap replacement for former defensive tackle Earl Mitchell. I am okay with this signing because Powe has experience in Romeo Crennel’s system and did not command ridiculous money. Although the Texans still need to sign some depth at the nose tackle position, I am fine with them doing it cheaply and with a relatively young player. Powe is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Texans’ defense, so look for the team to address this position through another cheap free agent or a low draft pick.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s signing came as more of a surprise than anything. After hearing rumor and rumor that the Texans were interested in several quarterbacks, including Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez, the Texans opted to sign the veteran Fitzpatrick to a contract that resembles those often given to solid backup quarterbacks. That being said, it looks like Fitzpatrick will be a stop-gap for a franchise that is in obvious rebuilding mode and a mentor for the presumably incoming rookie quarterback or he will back up said rookie quarterback. Personally, the former seems more likely. Many writers and analysts, such as John McClain from the Houston Chronicle, thinks that this signing locks the Texans in at drafting a quarterback with their first overall pick. Personally, I do not think that this signing changes anything. Even if Matt Schaub would not have been traded, the Texans were going to select a quarterback at some point in the draft, probably between the first and third rounds. Now, instead of the Texans retaining Schaub’s ludicrous contract and services as their backup quarterback, the Texans have Fitzpatrick to fill that role. The Texans are not locked in to selecting either Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, or Johnny Manziel with their first pick. They may very well turn to the second round and pick up Zach Mettenberger, Aaron Murray, or Jimmy Garoppolo (an idea that I think is the best option). Fitzpatrick, who has had his ups and downs as a starting NFL quarterback, fits in well with what O’Brien is trying to implement offensively. Even if Fitzpatrick is not the “sexiest” signing, it is one that makes sense financially and schematically.
Lastly, the Texans very quietly signed Kendrick Lewis, the former starting safety for the Kansas City Chiefs. Lewis, who has started fifty games at safety for the Chiefs, will seemingly come into training camp with an opportunity of earning the starting spot in Crennel’s defense. There are multiple reasons as to why the Texans were able to sign a starting safety at such a cheap price, such as his reputation as a mediocre run stopper and his reputation as having below average coverage skills, but nonetheless were still able to bring in somebody with notable experience at the safety position. If all goes well, Lewis will push second year D.J. Swearinger for the starting position and the team will have viable depth at the safety position. If Lewis fails, it is not that big of a deal since the Texans only signed him to a one year contract. Hopefully, Lewis will pan out, become a solid starting safety for the team, and earn another contract with the team.
All in all, the Texans have had one of the most, if not the most, boring runs in free agency in recent memory for a still very young franchise. For a team that is in desperate need of filling multiple positions with talent, the Texans have so far seemed to fall short; however, for a team that is cash strapped because of the salary cap, the Texans have actually made some reasonable signings. For the sake of Texans fans and the team’s future, Rick Smith and company better grade out really well in this upcoming draft. If not, this year might become another year of futility and disappointment.