Continuing to import front seven players as they transition to a 4-3 alignment in 2006, the Houston Texans have reached agreement with unrestricted defensive end N.D. Kalu of the Philadelphia Eagles, who will sign a one-year contract with the club.
A nine-year veteran, Kalu becomes the second defensive end added by the Texans in free agency, joining former Baltimore Ravens starter Anthony Weaver, who signed in the first week of the signing period. Weaver already is penciled in as the starter at left end. Kalu likely will be a situational pass rusher.
The Texans played a 3-4 front under former coach Dom Capers for the first four seasons of their existence, but rookie coach Gary Kubiak prefers a 4-3 defense. That means several holdover players will be forced to switch positions, with some linebackers moving to defensive end and a few ends moving to tackle, and it also means an infusion of veterans more familiar with the 4-3 techniques.
In addition to Weaver and Kalu, the Texans last week signed veteran linebacker Sam Cowart, because he has played the middle spot in a traditional 4-3 front.
Kalu will provide an affordable insurance policy, probably at right end, as young linebackers Jason Babin and Antwan Peek move to end. Kalu, 30, was also sought by Atlanta, and visited with Falcons officials late last week, before deciding to sign with the Texans.
The move to the Texans will be a homecoming of sorts for Kalu, who played collegiately at Rice, and who still has ties to the community.
In 104 games, Kalu has 157 tackles, 26 sacks, four forced fumbles, four recoveries, one interception and eight passes defensed. Mostly known as an upfield rusher, he posted 13½ sacks in 2002-2003 while with the Eagles, but then suffered a season-ending knee injury in the summer of 2004. He returned for the '05 season, appeared in 15 games, and registered 30 tackles and two sacks.
Kalu began his career with Philadelphia in 1997, signed with Washington in 1998 for three seasons, then returned to the Eagles in 2001.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.