|Thursday, December 27
Five players have reached agreements, more to come
By Len Pasquarelli
They have had a coach, a general manager and a nickname for more than a season, and now the Houston Texans also have some players.
Although the league's 32nd franchise will not officially announce the identities of its first 10 free agent acquisitions until a Saturday afternoon news conference conference, ESPN.com has confirmed the Texans have reached contract agreements with at least five players.
The five players are tailback Michael Basnight, fullback Matt Snider, defensive end Devon Finn, cornerback Jason Suttle and safety Kevin Williams.
A four-year veteran, Williams, 26, might be the most experienced of the players the Texans will add in their first wave of signings. The team, which staged workouts for players at all positions over the past month, was permitted to begin signing a maximum of 10 free agents Thursday, but club officials said they will not comment on the additions until all the contracts are filed.
Williams, who was released by Miami this summer and spent the first three seasons of his career with the New York Jets, has played in 30 games and started 13 of them. Suttle also is defender who has been around the league, most notably with Denver, for a few seasons. Finn was in the Miami training camp this summer.
A former Cincinnati backup, and an amateur poet, Basnight has played in 13 games, started one and rushed for 308 yards on 62 attempts. Snider has played with Green Bay and Minnesota, and is a good lead blocker and solid special teams performer.
"It's a great opportunity for guys like (Snider), players who have been on the fringe, but who can play in the league if they get a chance," said Snider's agent, Joe Linta. "Everyone is starting from the same point with this franchise, so it's not like anybody has a huge edge, and there are none of the preconceived notions you get in some circumstances."
Snider signed a two-year contract for the minimum base salary with a $2,000 signing bonus. It is believed that most of the 10 players the Texans will sign by Saturday got similar deals. One of the agents said he thought the largest signing bonus was $5,000.
Said Basnight, a tough inside runner who lost out in a tailback "numbers game" with the Bengals this year: "I'm really proud to be a part of the birth of this franchise. It would be easy to say that we're all doing this because it's a last resort, but I know I could have gone to camp with several teams next summer. I just thought this was an exciting proposition."
Among the other veteran free agents with whom the Texans are believed to be close on deals are quarterback Mike Quinn and offensive linemen Robert Hicks and Jerry Wisne.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.