Almost exactly two years ago, the Texans signed a player who will go down as one of the best to ever play his position, and it was a big mistake.
This month, the Texans signed another player who had a terrific career, all with one team. Vince Wilfork spent 11 seasons with the New England Patriots, and now, at 33, he's starting over with a different team.
Some wondered if this move was too similar to that of signing Ed Reed. I've written that I disagree with that take. Given that they signed Wilfork, it seems the Texans do too.
But rather than presume, I asked Texans owner Bob McNair.
"I think the difference is when you have someone at a position where they have to be able to run, then age is more of a consideration," McNair said. "We thought Ed was in good shape and was going to be able to come down and play and he was a big disappointment. At nose tackle, you don’t have to run that much. He’s got to be strong. So there’s some positions you can play for more years and you aren’t taking as much risk.
"You sign a wide receiver, you worry about him," McNair said, still speaking generally, not about Andre Johnson specifically. "Just from one year to the next. They can lose a step or two and they’re not the same player the next year."
Reed was an astounding talent at his peak, but he wasn't physically able to be the same player with the Texans that he was with the Ravens in his heyday. And he didn't handle the transition well publicly or behind closed doors in the locker room. Those factors dwarfed his potential mentoring ability, leading to the derisive nickname from Texans fans and other locals of "Coach Reed."
McNair and I talked about a lot of topics earlier this week, including his view on the Johnson situation. Johnson, who will be 34 this season, asked to be released rather than take a smaller role with the Texans. I asked McNair if he was surprised at the way Johnson reacted, and he said athletes never want to admit they've lost a step. He said none of us want to admit when we're getting older.
In response, one reader raised the Reed situation. It's clear McNair now understands signing Reed was a mistake. It's also clear he accurately views the receiver position with the same caution as safety as a player ages.