The Houston Texans have four starters, and two more players who spent most of the season starting due to injuries, hitting the market this afternoon.
Yesterday I reported nose tackle Earl Mitchell was moving on from the Texans, having better financial options elsewhere with six teams interested. Defensive end Antonio Smith already had two visits lined up for later in the week as of Monday morning. Starting inside linebacker Joe Mays, and backup running back Ben Tate and backup tight end Garrett Graham are also set to become free agents at 4 p.m. EST.
And finally, starting left guard Wade Smith will join the free-agent offensive line pool.
When I talked to Smith after the season ended, he said he had no idea what his future held because a new coaching staff meant all kinds of uncertainty.
Now it's clear Smith will enter the market and he's doing it healthy. I'm told, having healed from the nicks he played through during the 2013 season, Smith wants to continue a career that's already lasted 11 seasons. According to a source, the Texans have urged Smith to test the market, which is a sign they're not exactly planning to re-sign him, but aren't necessarily closing the door, either.
Smith's durability and versatility will help his quest to stick around the league in some role. I've documented the injuries he's played through, which included broken ribs during the 2012 season. He also had a knee scope, also known as arthroscopic knee surgery, shortly before the 2013 season started and didn't miss a regular-season game despite it.
Without Smith, here are some scenarios I could see playing out for the Texans offensive line. Three positions are solidly set: Duane Brown at left tackle, Chris Myers at center and Brandon Brooks at right guard. This is purely my speculation, but I could see a scenario next season in which David Quessenberry is moved to guard and Brennan Williams, or a rookie draft pick, plays right tackle. Alternately, you could see Ben Jones at left guard and Quessenberry at right tackle.
The picture of what the roster will look like next season only starts its process today.