Sean Pendergast

NFL Free Agency: Texans Bring Back CB Johnathan Joseph, TE Fiedorowicz To Retire

Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) upends rookie tight end David Njoku.
Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph (24) upends rookie tight end David Njoku. Photo by Jack Gorman
As the Houston Texans continue to fight the good fight in free agency this week, they were able to get a deal done with the player who, by any measurement, represents the most successful free agent signing in team history, as they re-upped with cornerback Johnathan Joseph on a two year, $10 million deal, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network:

The list of the Texans' own unrestricted free agents this offseason was 16 names long, but there were very few names for whom it made sense to bring back. However, bringing back Joseph was a priority for Texans GM Brian Gaine. Since arriving in free agency in 2011, Joseph has been a fixture at one of the cornerback spots, making two Pro Bowls early in his Texans tenure and providing largely steady play for the other five seasons.

In 2017, at age 33, Joseph played in all 16 games and had two interceptions and nine passes defended, including a pick six against the Browns in Week 6, a week in which he received AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Joseph arrived in Houston in 2011, along with fellow free agent safety Danieal Manning, as two pieces of a massive facelift for a secondary that had been routinely torched in 2010.

Joseph's arrival in 2011 might have saved the career of fellow cornerback Kareem Jackson, whose rookie year in 2010 was an unmitigated disaster. Jackson attached himself to Joseph's hip, and has become a steady piece of the Texans defense since then (although Jackson does need to improve from his play in 2018). It's likely Joseph's mentorship and leadership skills were a driving reason for the Texans' bringing him back on what will likely be his last contract.

Joseph reportedly drew interest from the Oakland Raiders, but according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Joseph's family was a big reason he chose to stay in Houston:

Joseph rejoins a secondary that has added free agent cornerback Aaron Colvin this week, and still hopes to add safety Tyrann Mathieu, who was released by the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon.

In other Texans news, on Thursday morning, the team announced that they are placing tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz on the Reserve/Retired list, essentially ending the career of the 2014 third round pick out of Iowa after four seasons:

Fiedorowicz's best season as a Texan was undoubtedly 2016, in which he had 54 catches for 559 yards and four touchdowns. However, he also suffered the first of what would become a litany of concussions over the subsequent 12 months, culminating with a 2017 season in which he was concussed in Week 1, placed on injured reserve, only to return and suffer another concussion in Week 13.

Fiedorowicz had hinted at retirement in an interview with his hometown newspaper back in February, and the Texans have reportedly been approaching this offseason, in free agency and the draft, as if Fiedorowicz would not be back. Now, that's become official.

Fiedorowicz's early retirement continues a depressing streak of bad luck for Texans third round picks, going back to 2012:

2012: DeVier Posey, torn Achilles in his rookie year, traded two seasons later
2012: Brandon Brooks, anxiety issues with the Texans, now a Pro Bowler for Philadelphia
2013: Brennan Williams, injured in his first practice as a Texan, never played a down, now in WWE
2013: Sam Montgomery, released after being caught at team hotel in Kansas City smoking SOMETHING
2014: C.J. Fiedorowicz, retired after four seasons and five concussions
2014: Louis Nix III, released after one season, never saw the field for the Texans
2015: Jaelen Strong, released after two seasons and two games, suspended one game for weed arrest in 2017
2016: Braxton Miller, 34 catches in two seasons, a disappointment
2017: D'Onta Foreman, torn Achilles ended his 2017 season

Oh, did I mention the Texans have three third round picks in this draft?

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast