Sean Pendergast

The Odds of Keeping Each Texans Free Agent

John Simon is a free agent the Texans would probably like to keep.
John Simon is a free agent the Texans would probably like to keep. Eric Sauseda
click to enlarge John Simon is a free agent the Texans would probably like to keep. - ERIC SAUSEDA
John Simon is a free agent the Texans would probably like to keep.
Eric Sauseda
On the NFL's calendar, free agency technically begins March 9, but it really begins much sooner, if you count the smoke signals, posturing and decisions needing to be made on using the franchise tag. For the Houston Texans, this looked like it would be a quiet free agency season, if you'd asked them before the 2016 regular season.

However, the ascension of A.J. Bouye to near elite-level corner play, along with the fiscal albatross the team is carrying after the crash and burn of the biggest free agency signing in the team's history, Brock Osweiler, makes this a surprisingly tricky (and important) offseason from a free agency perspective.

So let's take a quick look at the unrestricted free agents the Texans will be sending into the market, barring deals before March 9, and let's prioritize them in groups that are indicative of a) the team's need to retain them, and b) their possible interest level around the league. We will include their age, the average annual value of their last deal (AAV), odds that they return to the Texans and some comments.

First, let's mention two special cases on that list:

Vince Wilfork, DT
'16 AAV: $4,500,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 2 percent
COMMENT: Wilfork hasn't retired yet, but that seems to be the direction he's leaning. Honestly, I expected it to happen by now, but there's a decent chance that Vince has been at Killen's BBQ since the season ended and just hasn't left yet.

David Quessenberry, LT
AGE: 26
'16 AAV: $568,363
'17 TEXAN ODDS: No clue
COMMENT: We know Quessenberry's story of his battle with lymphoma. After being waived last May, he was re-signed and put on one of the medical reserve lists. This is just such a special case, to evaluate it with a football slant is almost impossible, given Quessenberry's medical circumstances and the fact that he's never gotten on the field in a game. So we will put him aside.


A.J. Bouye, CB
'16 AAV: $1,671,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 50 percent
I covered Bouye's free agency journey in its own post earlier this week, and if you look at my percentages for the various options available to both sides, it all adds up to greater than a 50 percent chance of the Texans keeping the four-year cornerback. So what's changed? Well, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle had a piece yesterday indicating that the Texans are unlikely to use the franchise tag, so I must account for the fact that a) Wilson is reputable, but b) the free agency process is full of smoke and mirrors. Honestly, the only thing we know is that if the Texans WANT to keep Bouye badly enough, they can via the franchise tag.


Shane Lechler, P
'16 AAV: $1,800,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 90 percent
COMMENT: I'm guessing Lechler is at the stage where comfort, location and the ability to deposit six-figure weekly checks while having a puncher's chance at the Super Bowl is the priority. The Texans provide...well...MOST of that, anyway.

John Simon, OLB
AGE: 26
'16 AAV: $1,671,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 80 percent
COMMENT: Pro Football Focus has Simon rated as the 38th-best free agent on the market, which is probably more a commentary on the state of the market than any rapid ascension by Simon in the eyes of the league. The Texans snagged him off the Ravens practice squad a couple of years ago, and he's developed into a solid if unspectacular outside linebacker. My guess here is that a tepid market and comfort in Romeo Crennel's system (not to mention playing in the same front seven with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney AND Whitney Mercilus all healthy) will combine to bring Simon back on a reasonable two-year deal.


Quintin Demps, SS
AGE: 31
'16 AAV: $1,500,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 40 percent
COMMENT: At age 31 and coming off his most productive season as a pro, Demps HAS to see what the market has for him. He's intimated hope that he can land a multi-year deal worth at least a few million per year out there. In a weird way, the Bouye situation has a domino effect on Demps, insomuch as re-signing Bouye could signal a move to safety for Kareem Jackson, which would likely mean Demps is gone, unless he comes back on a veteran's minimum-level deal.

Ryan Griffin, TE
AGE: 27
'16 AAV: $559,670
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 35 percent
COMMENT: Griffin had his best season as a pro in 2016, catching 50 passes in what was a surprisingly productive tandem with C.J. Fiedorowicz. While Griffin is still challenged as a blocker, his ability to catch and run after the catch might find him a surprisingly robust deal, à la James Casey in 2013, when he got a three-year, $14 million deal from the Eagles.

Jonathan Grimes, RB
AGE: 27
'16 AAV: $900,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 75 percent
COMMENT: Hard to believe Grimes is entering his sixth season as a Texan (if he comes back). Grimes is a "dirty work, does the little things player" who seemingly makes one or two winning plays each game. The staff loves him, and he's a fixture on special teams. Grimes feels like one of those players who find a home on the back end of a team's roster and end up staying there for a decade.

Oday Aboushi, G
'16 AAV: $589,750
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 60 percent
COMMENT: Aboushi was an underrated crowd favorite, mostly because people still can't bring themselves to embrace Xavier Su'a-Filo (which is Polynesian for "drafted two picks ahead of Derek Carr") and just seem plain tired of Jeff Allen. I could see him back on a two-year, $4 million type deal, as depth or a spot starter.


Nick Novak, K
AGE: 35
'16 AAV: $965,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 90 percent
COMMENT: Mitigating factor here is the presence of Ka'imi Fairbairn, who was on injured reserve last season, and will get a shot at the starting job. There's no chance that another team signs Novak to even a modestly-over-minimum deal, so my guess is Novak is back to compete for his gig again in 2017.

Don Jones, FS
AGE: 26
'16 AAV: $675,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 90 percent
COMMENT: Underrated special teams guy, but probably nothing more than a veteran's minimum contract. Doubtful there is a "Don Jones bidding war."

Akeem Dent, ILB
AGE: 29
'16 AAV: $2,250,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 50 percent
COMMENT: Can't imagine he will be back for multiple millions of dollars like he was on his last contract. Feels replaceable.

Antonio Smith, DE
AGE: 35
'16 AAV: $985,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 10 percent
COMMENT: I'm guessing it's back to the ranch for The Ninja, who fit in well as a backup at nose tackle, mostly because he is now closer to the weight of a nose tackle than the 4-3 defensive end he was when he arrived in Houston in 2009. Wilfork's retirement could change the calculus, but my guess is he sits at home until needed, a modern-day Jeff Zgonina.

Devon Still, DT
AGE: 27
AAV: $675,000
'17 TEXAN ODDS: 25 percent
COMMENT: Seems like a nice kid with a great story (his young daughter, Leah, who beat cancer), but he's never been an impactful NFL player. Maybe back as a camp body.

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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