Texans spend $34M to take a top cornerback out of free-agent mix
Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson intercepts a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Damian Williams (17) as he returns it for a touchdown in the second half of their NFL football game in Houston September 30, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carso
The Houston Texans have taken Kareem Jackson, one of the top expected free-agent cornerbacks, off the market.
Three days before NFL free agency kicks off, the Texans on Saturday re-signed Jackson to a reported $34-million, four-year deal -- with $20 million guaranteed.
That's an average of $8.5 million per year.
Is Jackson worth that kind of coin? He sure is. By most experts' evaluations, Jackson is good, perhaps bordering on elite, after five up-and-down years. Few teams in the league would not sign Jackson if they had the need, and cap room, to do it.
His staying in Houston leaves Detroit's Rashean Mathis, San Francisco's Chris Culliver, San Diego's Brandon Flowers and Dallas' Sterling Moore as the top available unrestricted free agent (UFA) corners, according to ProFootballFocus.com. That is, so long as their current teams don't re-sign them before the start of the new league year on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.
'LEGAL TAMPERING' BEGINS: For the fourth year, the NFL is allowing what is ironically called "legal tampering" in the three-day period before free agency.
Since Saturday at noon ET, by wording of the league's rule, clubs have been "permitted to contact, and enter in to contract negotiations" with player agents of pending UFAs. "However," the league warns, "a contract cannot be executed with a new club" until free agency begins Tuesday at 4 ET.
Players are forbidden from talking to teams in this window, and aren't even supposed to be lining up free-agency visits. Funny, then, how some players, just after free agency begins, wind up in a city whose NFL team they're negotiating with first.
The league monitors such activity closely, and reportedly reminded teams of that fact Saturday morning.
By Monday we might get a sense of which teams are making the strongest pitches for the top free agents. Speaking of which ...
SUH-NAMI OF INTEREST: The fight to sign Ndamukong Suh, probably the top free-agent-to-be, already appears ferocious.
The Dolphins had let it be known they'll be hard to beat if the defensive tackle is looking merely to take the highest bid.
On Saturday, reports said the Chargers aim to give the Dolphins a run for their nine figures. Maybe the Raiders, too. And undoubtedly other teams undeterred by the serial stomper.
That's right, nine figures. It'll be a huge surprise if Suh doesn't sign a contract worth at least $100 million, to make him the highest paid defensive player in league history.
Expect his average salary to be $20 million, and his guaranteed cash to be in the $60-million range.
For comparison's sake, the gargantuan contact defensive end Mario Williams scored from the Buffalo Bills in 2012 gives him an average salary of $16 million over six years ($96 million), with $50 million guaranteed.
OTHER REACH-OUTS: According to various reports, the Texans are targeting QB Brian Hoyer, currently of the Browns. When Hoyer backed up Tom Brady on the Pats from 2009-11, current Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was New England's QBs coach or offensive coordinator ... The Vikings have expressed interest in signing free-agent-to-be QB Shaun Hill, currently with the Rams. Hill played for the Vikings last decade .. Numerous reports say the Eagles are going to go hard after S Devin McCourty, currently with the Patriots ... ESPN's Josina Anderson said four teams have expressed interest in signing S Da'Norris Searcy, currently of the Bills: namely, the Texans, Colts, Dolphins and Raiders. S Duke Williams played a larger role in the Bills secondary last year and Bills GM Doug Whaley has all but said that re-signing Searcy is not a priority.
TEXAS TACKLES LASSOOED: Both the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans tied up the valuable right-side anchors of their offensive lines Saturday.
The Cowboys gave RT Doug Free a three-year, $15-million contract. That means owner/GM Jerry Jones has kept intact the best offensive line Tony Romo has ever thrown behind, as LT Tyron Smith, LG Ronald Leary, C Travis Frederick and RG Zack Martin were already under contract through at least 2015.
The Texans gave their RT Derek Newton a five-year, $26.5-million deal, with $10 million guaranteed. Now we just await which starting QB he'll be pass-protecting.
SUSPENDED: S LaRon Landry apparently can't keep off the juice. After serving a four-game suspension last season with the Colts for being caught using performance-enhancing drugs, and after the Colts released him earlier this off-season, the NFL on Friday suspended Landry for the first 10 games of the 2015 season, again for PED use. Landry is 30 years old. It might take a desperate team to give him a shot next November.
NEW DEAL FOR SHADY: According to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, the Bills are reportedly close to hammering out a new contract with RB LeSean (Shady) McCoy, whom they're set to acquire Tuesday afternoon once the trade with Philadelphia officially becomes official. And Tim Graham of the Buffalo News tweeted Saturday night that the Bills and free-agent-to-be edge rusher Jerry Hughes "have made progress" in talks.
EXTRA POINTS: The Chargers were reportedly close to re-signing CB Brandon Flowers ... The Bucs reportedly struck deals to keep DE Larry English, LB Jason Williams and S Major Wright ... One day after the Colts said buh-bye to 14-year WR Reggie Wayne, one report said he was hoping the Colts would sign him for one more year. And multiple reports said Wayne might consider playing for a different team -- a contender -- this coming season ... The Dolphins cut LB Philip Wheeler ... Niners CEO Jed York told the San Francisco Chronicle that "I think we'll figure out a way" to keep RB Frank Gore.