Joseph a giant upgrade for Texans

The Houston Texans have a new lead defensive back. According to John McClain, when they couldn’t lock up the biggest prize in free agency, they decided they couldn’t lose out on the second-best cornerback.

So rather than continue to wait on Nnamdi Asomugha, they reached an agreement with Cincinnati free agent Johnathan Joseph on a five-year, $48.75 million contract with $23.5 million guaranteed and a $12.5 million signing bonus.

Joseph becomes the top defensive back for a team that, for a long stretch last season, had a historically bad pass defense. He will start, likely opposite last year’s No. 1 pick, Kareem Jackson, who struggled badly as a rookie. The team also has draft pick Brandon Harris and several guys who contributed to the terrible defense in 2010: Jason Allen, Brice McCain, Sherrick McManis and Antwaun Molden.

Glover Quin, the team’s best corner last season is in line to play free safety. The Texans are now in the market for a veteran strong safety to play with him. McClain said they are one of three finalists for Chicago free agent Danieal Manning who could decide on Friday.

Joseph is a good get, and surely has the endorsement of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips had a strong say in a defense-heavy draft class as he transforms the team to a 3-4 scheme.

Here’s Scouts Inc.’s assessment of Joseph:

“Joseph is a good combination of size, strength and athleticism for a perimeter defender. He is explosive, quick and sharp out of his breaks. Joseph gets off the ground well and has very good overall speed. He reads plays well in zone and can stay on his opponent's hip in man coverage. He is a solid run-support player and a reliable tackler in the open field. Joseph has had some durability concerns throughout his career, but when healthy, he's an excellent cornerback.”

Joseph is a big-ticket acquisition for a team that doesn’t do a lot of big-ticket free agent shopping.

But he won’t be come in regarded as a savior. Maybe that’s part of the silver lining on not getting Asomugha. Had the Texans landed him, a lot of people outside the team, and perhaps some inside it, might have thought him the solution to all their problems.

Joseph is a good player who will be a good piece. But no one will expect him to fix the team on his own, so no one will be tempted to think it’s all taken care of.