The Trouble with Mario

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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.

Posted on May 14, 2012 and filed under Sports.