Texans & Mario Williams
I know, I know, Mario Williams was the number 1 pick. He’s quite the physical specimen, who is just six years into his career. He’s been to the Pro Bowl twice. Last season, he had 5 sacks in 5 games. I know this. Despite all of that, the Texans CANNOT keep him. This is not an indictment on William’s play or ability, but rather his value (production divided by cost) as compared to his replacements and the rest of the Texans’ on field needs. This is about value. This is about team. This is about future not past.
The Texans’ don’t have any glaring needs. However, just because they’re not glaring doesn’t mean they are not present. They need more help in the secondary and receiving corps. Plus, you always need linebackers in the 3-4 defense. We all know that Mario is not a true linebacker. With these needs, I don’t think you can pay what it will cost to keep Williams—not with his deficiencies/issues (injuries and lack of experience at LB). Based on other top notch pass rushers’ contracts, it will cost between 11-15 million dollars per year to get Mario.
When he’s on the field, Williams has been fairly productive. According to Lance Zierlein (radio host, 790 AM - Houston) through STATS, Inc., the most disruptive DEs since 2007 (Sacks + hurries +Knockdowns) are: DeMarcus Ware (284), Jared Allen (273), Dwight Freeney (211), Julius Peppers (202), Terrell Suggs 195, and Mario Williams (192.5). Clay Matthews is already at 140.5 after just 3 seasons. However, Mario has missed 14 of the last 32 games.
Would keeping Mario be nice? Yes. But we have other needs, this year and next. With Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed filling in more than admirably in Williams’ absence last year, those other needs are more demanding of the Texans’ dollars. Remember, this is not a micro level decision about just Mario Williams; this is a macro level decision about the entire Texans 53 man roster.
In addition to this year’s needs (recently signed Arian Foster and yet to be signed Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel, and Joel Dreesen), the Texans have some serious decisions on how to spend money next year to secure some cornerstone players like Matt Schaub, Duane Brown, and Connor Barwin. Organizations cannot just make decisions year to year. They have to have a plan in place on maximizing dollars in securing foundational level players for 3-5 year runs. In recent years, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not do this, and just this week cut $40 million in players (Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Chris Kemoeatu) to get under the salary cap next year.
Many people in Houston have been underwhelmed with Williams’ career. Mario is not a bad guy or a bad player. He is a polarizing player due to the fact that he came to the Texans as the overall number 1 draft pick in 2006. With that comes unbelievable expectations. He has had several injuries that have kept him out and limited his effectiveness. He’s certainly tough as he played through some of his many injuries, but when you’re talking this kind of money, the injuries are a serious factor.
All of this being said, I do not think Mario will or should be staying in Houston. I believe the leading contenders (in order) for his services should be: Buffalo, Atlanta, Chicago, and the dark horse: New England. The Patriots have been missing a serious pass rusher since they traded Richard Seymour to Oakland. It’s not personal, Mario; it’s just business.