Grading Houston Texans' Signing of Ed Reed
Colleague Albert Breer relayed that Reed texted that the contract hasn't been finalized, but it certainly appears that barring a last-second snafu, the nine-time Pro Bowler is headed to the AFC South.
Let's look at what that means for the Texans in 2013.
Fit: Fills a Hole for the Texans
The Houston Texans' secondary was exposed somewhat as the 2012 season progressed. The loss of safety Glover Quin to the Detroit Lions only amplified the Texans' need to improve the back end of the defense.
Reed will now team with Danieal Manning in Houston, providing the team with a pair of savvy veterans at the safety positions.
It may not appear to be an upgrade. After all, Reed graded out lower than Quin overall last year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He also quite a few years older (34 compared to 27).
However, Reed scored much higher than Quin in coverage. While Reed's acquisition may not be a huge upgrade, I'm willing to at least call it more than a lateral move.
Talent: How Much Is Left in the Tank?
At one point, Ed Reed was one of the most feared defensive players in the NFL. He was a hard-hitting safety who had a knack for making a huge play just when his team needed him to.
At 34, he has clearly lost a step. No one is comparing today's Ed Reed to the player who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
However, even at his advanced age, Reed was still a top-20 safety in coverage in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. He tallied four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
That was Reed's seventh career touchdown return in the regular season. As he showed with a pick in Super Bowl XLVII, the old man still has a nose for the big play.
Price: We Really Don't Know
Since this deal hasn't been finalized as of the time I'm writing this, terms of the deal have yet to be released. It could well be a couple days before the actual numbers are known.
It was reported earlier this week by Dan Hanzus of NFL.com that Reed was seeking a salary close to the $7.2 million that he got in 2012. The Ravens, meanwhile, were offering about $4 million annually.
For the sake of argument, let's split the difference and bump that a bit as an incentive. That leaves us at about $6 million a season over two years—not terrible for a safety with Reed's pedigree.
With that said, it's no great bargain either.
Risk: Well, Yeah, He's 34
Much like with the price slide, it's pretty hard to gauge the risk involved in signing Ed Reed.
Until we know how much money Reed was guaranteed, it's impossible to know how much the Texans could conceivably be on the hook for if Reed's play falls off a cliff.
With that said, Reed has played in 16 games in five of his past seven seasons, and his statistical output over the last two years has remained fairly consistent.
Yes, the Texans are taking a chance by counting on a 34-year-old safety to be a key part of their defense. But this is one situation where the risk is so plainly evident that I'm going to assume the terms of the contract mitigate it a bit.
Final Grade: A Good Move by Houston
Of all the grades that I've assigned to free-agent signings this year, the Ed Reed one may be one of the most straightforward. And I don't even know the terms of the deal.
That said, I highly doubt the money's crazy, or it wouldn't have taken the Texans so long to get this done.
On one hand, you have Ed Reed the aging superstar. He's a player who has his flaws, and he's clearly not the dominant force that he once was.
On the other, you have Ed Reed the savvy veteran. He's player who still has a nose for the football, will upgrade the Houston secondary and will be a presence in the locker room.