After apause forall the dust tostart settling(and a couple re writes)I’ve put together this Free Agency Primer to serve as a jump off to what we’ve all been eagerly waiting for the 2011 NFL Football season. Let’s GO

The Texans’ last real player personneltransactionscameroughly three months ago with theireight selections in the 2011 NFL Draft. Watt to come to Houston for a day, but since then there has been virtually no contact between the team and its newest players. Teams had their priority UDFA lists ready to go for the opening bell, and many UDFAs already have agreements with teams. Also, with a rookie wage scale implemented as part of the new CBA, getting rookie deals done should be a matter of course to be handled most swiftly. (well, at least we should hope it is, because most teams have much bigger fish to fry. Namely.)

One of the most critical tasksto start free agency is for teams to determine which of their own players not under contract they wish to re sign. With four years of accrued NFL service being the requirement for unrestricted FA status, as opposed to six in 2010, the pool of available players is much deeper than last off season’s. The 1 year tender offers from teams to players with the requisite four years, such as Jacoby Jones in the Texans’ case, will be rendered null by the new CBA allowing those players to hit the market unrestricted. As per the aformentioned timeline, teams are allowed to negotiate with potential free agents as of Tuesday, July 26th, before deals can actually be signed on Friday. The Texans are in a bit more secure position than some teams with regard to the sheer number and stature of their own FAs. Other than Vonta Leach, none of their impending free agents is a projected 2011starter. Burge, there are some key negotiations awaiting the Texans. I’m still pretty strongly in favor of keeping Jacoby around as long as it’s a team friendly deal. He’s made strides each year in a Texans uni and, mental lapses aside, he’s still an ascending player that shouldn’tsting too badly tokeep. Leach has publicly stated that he’d like to be the highest paid FB in the League, which may not amount to a huge dollar deal but might have a cost in the level ofdefensive backthe Texans could target. Butler has also made public statements about his desire to start as well asthe reality that he will likely find that opportunity elsewhere.

Of course,unrestricted free agent negotiationsare likethe main course to the smorgasbord of post lockout action to come. The official listing, which includes six categories of free agents for 2011 (pdf), was sent to teams early Monday evening. Teams may begin contract negotiations with the listed players beginning at 10:00am EDT (wink Nike LeBron 11 wink). With so much time with no real football news, I’m sure many fans are already well acquainted with most of the names on the list. As for value, well it’s all relative and this market will be like none we’ve ever seen or likely will see going forward. PFF also composed a page where readers select and click to view the top FAs available at each position. Texans Fans know all too well that the team’s main concerns are on defense,especially the secondary,which isthe focus in this section

Nnamdi Asomugha The top prize in the free agent sweepstakes and he just so happens to play a position of critical need to the Texans. Nnamdi is also poised to break the bank wide open.

BigRon Money Note: If the Texans signed Asomugha but did little else in the way of adding free agents, my reaction would still be utter elation. However, my baseline contract estimation for Nnamdi is a 5 year deal worth $80M with $40 45M of that guaranteed. I arrived at that figure upon looking at recent contract terms for Albert Haynesworth (WAS 7y/$100M/$41gtd) and Julius Peppers (CHI 6y/$84M/$42gtd) and then adding some ‘extra cheese’. That figure would make Asomugha the highest paid defender in the NFL in terms of both average salary per season ($16M) and average guaranteed dollars per season ($8 9M). A sixth year could be a factor as could the total contract amount but, as noted, it’s a baseline. Would it be a prudent move? Probably not for that kind of dough against a $123M salary cap. Is it likely to happen? I doubt very seriously Asomugha joins the Texans and I’d be shocked if it everpops up on my twitter feed.(shameless plug, I know)

Johnathan Joseph Widely considered the 2 CB on the free agent market. He’s not been the consistent cover man that Nnamdi has and frankly isn’t in the same class, but he is 3 years younger and will be considerably less expensive.

BigRon Money Note: Joseph is likely the Bengals top priority in free agency, as they have to spend significant money just to reach the salary floor. Still, he may desire a change of scenery and will certainly have the suitors to accommodate him. My baseline contract estimate for Joseph is a 6 year deal worth $60M with $27 30M of that guaranteed. That figure comes Air Jordan Women Size from a combination of recent contract terms for Dunta Robinson (ATL 6y/$57M/$25.5gtd) and Charles Woodson (GB 5y/$55M/$21gtd), which were both signed last year. I’m not as big a fan of pursuing Joseph as opposed to one of the next few guys on the list, as I believethe relative value is even more questionable considering past production and likely salary. In other words, I think Joseph’s talent is closer to the rest of the pack of FA corners than it is to Asomugha’s, while his contract could end up the other way around. Still, if Air Jordan 20s Johnathan Joseph was the guy the Texans ticketed, you won’t see a single complaint from me.

Josh Wilson A year younger than Joseph but a decidedly lesser talent. Has starting experience with both SEA and BAL, good speed and athleticism, and would upgrade the Texans CB corps as a reasonably priced starter. In case you’ve blocked out the memory, he’s the guy Air Jordan 8s with the game ending pick 6 in the Texans’ Monday NightOT lossv. Baltimore. Wilson also has a Houston tie, as he was born here and his father, the late Tim Wilson, was an Oilers RB and lead blocker for the great Earl Campbell.

Carlos Rogers, Richard Marshall, Chris Carr, Ike Taylor All CBs thatcould possiblybe considerations for the Texans. I’m not particularly high on any of them, but I wouldn’t argue against signing any one of them should the Texansseek to.

BigRon Money Note: Any of the CBs beyond Asomugha and Joseph will likely sign more manageable deals relative to the Texans’ making other FA additions. I won’t speculate on what this unusual market would allow for Air Jordan 4s in the case of what I consider third tier CBs, but I would expect a significant step down from Josephin market rate.

The Texans should definitely target a safety fromthis FA group. Of course, how the team approaches a safety upgrade is directly related to the expenditure earmarked for a starting CB.

Quintin Mikell Though there’s a good chance he stays in Philly, Mikell tops my safety wish list. Brings good experience and could provide much needed leadership among the DBs. The best combination of run support and coverage available in my opinion.

Dawan Landry A very good player with plus run support ability but limitations in coverage. Would be a good addition next to Glover Quin.

Eric Weddle A player on the come after highly productive third and fourth seasons with the Chargers. Might get the richest safety contract and also a fair bet to be retained by SD.

Gerald Sensabaugh Generally considered the most likely to become a Texan. I would consider Sensabaugh an upgrade over Bernard Pollard, but only a slight one. Familiarity with Wade Phillips’ system is a plus, solid overall production, five INTs in 2010, probably would be a fair value signing.

Danieal Manning My sleeper safety target, albeit an unlikely one. Manning has steadily ascended in CHI since being selected out of Abilene Christian. Very good in coverage but lacking in the run force department. Also adds dynamic return ability.

Dashon Goldson Goldson has familiaritywith new Texans DBs coach Vance Joseph and is a name to keep in mind as the market unfolds. Has been a solid contributor for the 49ers.

BigRon Money Note: It’s very difficult to gauge the safety market, especially with a few of these players likely to remain with the same teams.

I could see the Texans adding a few free agents in these areas, namely a noseguard,depth at LB, andpossibly replacements at WR and OT should they lose Butler and/or Jones. I’ll add morein theresponses, buta few names I’ll be tracking:

DTs Kelly Gregg (to be cut byBAL)andPat Williams

DEs Stephen Bowen, Marcus Spears, and Ray McDonald

LBs Kevin Burnett, Brandon Siler,and Antwan Barnes

Are you in favor of them letting Vonta go because you want to see Casey start? I think it would be insane to go from the proven to the unproven this is a critical season for the Texans not to mention it unfair to Arian because he is due a big contract as well so you wanna keep everything the same so he can succeed as well. I know some fans are clamoring for Casey to start but if he was that good shouldn he have beaten someone out by now seeing as though the texans don have much talent to begin with. The grass is not always greener on the other side so while Casey may be a passing threat do you really see him blowing up guys in the hole on the goaline.

What a beautiful day it is! Football is back as a topic without having to discuss lawyers.

Nice post BR. We have a wild card I don get though, and that our cap limitation. I was listening to one of the radio shows just now and one of the guys was saying the Texans are within $1 mil of the cap as we sit right now.

I have no idea how the cap works anymore. Do you know if it true that we in that kind of situation? If so, my opinion of Rick Smith just went from see to out the tar and feathers also have a feeling they not going to sign Leach. It too bad, he a great FB and also a really swell person, but I don see them throwing the money at him that he wants, and I not even sure they should.