It was shortly after the lockout of NFL players ended during the summer of 2011. The league was once again open for business and free agents could sign wherever they chose to do so. The Houston Texans were coming off a 2010 season in which their defense, specifically their secondary, was the biggest flaw on the team, the biggest reason for their disappointing 6-10 record.
Most Texan fans were hoping the Texans would try to land the biggest cornerback fish on the market, then-Raiders free agent Nnamdi Asomugha. Instead, the Texans went one rung down the expense ladder, and inked Bengals CB Johnathan Joseph to a five year, $48.75 million contract. (It must be pointed out they also signed safety Danieal Manning as well. That was big.)
The following season, with Wade Phillips as the new defensive coordinator and some kid named Watt coming in as a rookie, the Texans became one of the five best defenses in the NFL. Joseph made the Pro Bowl, and was a huge reason for the team's success and the improvement of second year CB Kareem Jackson.
Now, fast forward nearly a decade later, and not only is Joseph still with the Texans, but he has become a foundational piece of the franchise for the last nine years. At age 35, he is THE elder statesman on a team that is fairly youthful. On Tuesday, the team rewarded him with a raise in the last year of his current deal. Courtesy fo Field Yates of ESPN.com, here is the breakdown:
The Texans gave CB Johnathan Joseph a raise, per source. He got a $1.5M signing bonus, his base salary increased from $2.9M to $4M, while his per game roster bonuses reduced from $1M total to $500K total. Rewarding a veteran player.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 30, 2019
My first thought is "Good for Johnathan Joseph!" who is not only a good cornerback, but also a SportsRadio 610 listener. (So yeah, I may be biased.) He is essentially netting out at an extra $2.1 million in income this season. My other thoughts on this deal are as follows:
Joseph deserves this from a performance standpoint
He is not the same player at age 35 that he was at age 28, but Joseph is still cagey enough to be a plus-performer on the field for the Texans. He will almost undoubtedly be a starter for the ninth straight season and, in 2018, he was one of seven Texans with a Pro Football Focus performance score over 80, which is a very good to elite level of performance. More specifically, we will always have this....
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Joseph's leadership skills are baked into this raise
It's widely believed that once Joseph decides to hang up his cleats that he will be taking on some sort of off the field role with the Texans, perhaps in coaching or the front office. Given the Texans recent spate of hiring former players, and the respect for Joseph franchise-wide, this is no shock. In the interim, while Joseph is still playing, this pay raise probably has an element of compensation for being a de facto coach already with some of the young corners and safeties on this team.
Man, Joseph might make it a decade in Houston
It's incredible to think of the number of defensive backs that have come and gone in Joseph's nine years with the team. He's the only secondary member still here (sorry, Kareem) to live through the back to back double digit win seasons, the Ed Reed Era, the firing of Gary Kubiak, the Kevin Johnson Bust, and the season of Honey Badger. It remains to be seen if Joseph will play beyond 2019. If he's still playing at a high enough level, and the money is right, then why not? If he does play in 2020, that would be a full decade with the Texans on the field, a feat only duplicated by one man — Andre Johnson. Which brings me to....
Joseph will be the next Texan inducted into the team's Ring of Honor
This has been my prediction for over a year now. Watt is the easiest bet to eventually be inducted, but Joseph should be retiring before Watt, which would make him eligible for induction. There really aren't any retired former Texans who are a combination of more deserving (two Pro Bowls, among career leaders in passes defended in league history) and more respected than Joseph.