When the Texans made the minor administrative change to J.J. Watt's upcoming $10 million roster bonus, it opened up $8 million in salary cap space, and many out there speculated that this was the precursor to another significant move in free agency.
Truth be told, there probably isn't anything that splashy available in free agency anymore. However, the Texans needed to give themselves some breathing room to sign their rookie class and the ability to stay humble in case they found something in the bargain bin that tickled their fancy.
On Wednesday, they sifted through the wide receiver bin and pulled out Nate Washington!
The Texans have signed the unrestricted free agent wide receiver, late of the Tennessee Titans, it was announced Wednesday afternoon. Courtesy of John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, here are the terms of the deal:
WR Nate Washington signed a one-year deal for $1 million, including $30,000 guaranteed.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) April 1, 2015
Washington (6-1, 183), started 11 games for the Titans last season and was third on the team with 40 receptions and 647 receiving yards. The 11-year veteran also scored two touchdowns, highlighted by a career-long 80-yard score vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. Washington's best game of the season was in Week 15 vs. the New York Jets, where he had a season-high six receptions for 102 yards.
Washington was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2005, and after a rookie year that was largely spent on the practice squad and inactive, Washington has played in every game possible since that season. He was the Titans' leading receiver for the period from 2009 through 2013, notching 267 catches and nearly 4,000 yards. His best season occurred in 2011 when he posted career highs in receptions (74), yards (1,023) and touchdowns (7).
More important, Washington is another veteran who has experience playing for Super Bowl teams (Pittsburgh, 2005 and 2008), joining Vince Wilfork in that category in this free agency class. Washington is also part of a gradual, continued upgrade of the wide receiver depth chart, joining Cecil Shorts III as veteran help at the Texans' weakest position on the team.
Depending on what the Texans do in the draft, where the likelihood that they select a receiver with a first or second round pick is fairly high, there is now a legitimate chance that they wind up cleaning out one or both of the two wide receivers they drafted in 2012, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin. Posey was inactive for all but one game in 2014, and Martin led the universe in fair catches (seemingly).
The next veteran free agent to drop for the Texans could be a familiar face as rumors persist that the team has been in contact with veteran defensive end Antonio Smith, who was released by the Raiders earlier this week. Smith, of course, spent 2009 through 2013 as a Houston Texan and still makes his home in the Houston area. As with many positions on the team, he'd represent an immediate upgrade over the current depth.