When the Texans didn’t apply the franchise tag last Monday to linebacker Mario Williams, many assumed that the first pick in the 2006 draft would soon be picking his next team. While that may indeed be the case, the Texans aren’t out of the hunt to keep Williams, yet.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that, as of right now, there’s a 50-50 chance that Williams will remain with the Texans.
The next 24 hours will give a more clear picture. Within 24 hours or so after that, Williams will be free to leave.
It would have cost the Texans a whopping $22 million in 2012 to keep Williams around under the franchise tag. It could cost twice that amount, maybe more, in guaranteed money to sign him to a long-term deal.
The bigger question for the Texans is whether Williams is a luxury the team can afford. The Texans’ new 3-4 defense performed well after Williams was lost for the season in Week Five. The money needed to keep Williams arguably would be better spent elsewhere.
With passing offenses taking over the league, the pendulum will swing to cornerbacks and defensive ends. Some 4-3 team that has to contend twice per season with a 4,000-yard (or, as the case may be, 5,000-yard) quarterback could see Williams as the way to hold those numbers down.
Then there’s the fact that a team may be willing to overspend on Williams in order to generate the kind of offseason buzz that sells tickets and jerseys and hats and draws attention in the home market and nationally. That’s a premium that a franchise committed to building a long-term contender may not want to pay.
So while the Texans still have a good chance to keep him, chances are that he’ll be holding up come Tuesday night or Wednesday a new jersey, in a new city.