Two years ago, the Texans gave $5 million in guaranteed money to an 11-year veteran defender who had just won a Super Bowl. It didn’t work out.
This year, the Texans once again gave $5 million in guaranteed money to an 11-year veteran defender who had just won a Super Bowl. Some wonder whether it will work out.
Obviously, owner Bob McNair believes Vince Wilfork won’t be another Ed Reed. Otherwise, the Texans wouldn’t have taken a chance on a player that Patriots coach Bill Belichick opted to not keep around. So what’s the difference between Reed and Wilfork?
“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 at the league meetings, via Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com. “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.”
The notion that old guys are more likely to lose speed than strength seems a little simplistic. Plenty of fast guys retain their speed well into their 30s. Plenty of strong guys lose their strength well before turning 40.
The biggest difference between Reed and Wilfork is that Reed was damaged goods when he signed with the Texans. The Texans didn’t notice that Reed needed hip surgery when giving him a passing grade on his physical.
So it’s less embarrassing for the Texans to distinguish Reed and Wilfork based on the speed vs. strength of older players, and not to remind everyone that whoever gave Reed a clean bill of health in 2013 made a major mistake. Ultimately, Reed’s short stay in Houston had a lot more to do with the hip problem the team didn’t spot than an age-related reduction in his speed.