The Texans Unleash Their Free Agency Assault...by Signing the Rams' Punter
The offseason started out just fine for the Texans, with the team inking star running back Arian Foster to a five-year, $40 million contract. Since then, other than the re-signing of center Chris Myers, it's been a depressing parade of one guy after another either leaving or being asked to leave.
Mario Williams, Eric Winston, Mike Brisiel, DeMeco Ryans, Joel Dreessen, and on and on. All gone. It hasn't been pretty.
If you want to regain the confidence of a shell-shocked fan base, if you want to announce your presence with authority to your league peers, if you want to let the free world know that the Texans are here and here to stay, there's only one way to do it:
You sign the St. Louis Rams' punter to a one-year contract.
Ha ha! Suck it, Rams!! Texan fans, say hello to Donnie Jones, your newest Houston Texan and long snapper Jon Weeks's soon to be BFF!
The signing leaves the Texans with two punters on the roster as the incumbent Brett Hartman recovers from an ACL tear suffered late last season. Also, even when Hartman does come back, he will have to serve the final three games of a four-game suspension for failing a performance-enhancing-drug test, so barring a complete crapping of the proverbial preseason bed, Jones should at least have a three-game gig in 2012.
Noticing a difference between Hartman and Jones will be tough. They're damn near statistical twins! In 2011, Hartman averaged 44.4 yards per punt and finished 28th in the league in net average per punt. Jones finished 2011 with stats that were downright Hartmanian, averaging 44.3 yards per punt and finishing 31st in net average.
To be fair to Jones, he has had some level of success in the league, his best season being 2008 when he finished with a 50-yard average per punt and was named to the All-Pro second team, and honestly, if he has just a few punts like this Madden version of him, Jones will be a crowd favorite:
Jones signs with the Texans for the "football player" paltry/"regular person" princely sum of $890,000, with a $65,000 signing bonus. He will count $540,000 against the salary cap next season, a fact that surprised me only because the Texans have been behaving like they barely have $540 in cap space, let alone $540,000.
Jones is an LSU alum, having punted on the 2003 national championship team, which means he's moving back closer to home. He was surpassed this past season as the all-time coolest LSU punter when current Tiger punter Brad Wing became the only player in college football to draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that nullified a touchdown under the new taunting rules:
Sadly, this signing probably means the end of the line for Matt Turk and his 34-inch biceps as a Texan, and it's probably a good thing. At age 82, it's time for Turk to hang 'em up before he breaks a hip.
So the Texans now have two punters, no kickers and a long snapper who is going to make $700,000 per year.
Texans fans, feel any better?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.