HOUSTON -- When the Houston Texans drafted cornerback Kevin Johnson in the first round, it begged the question of what this meant for Johnathan Joseph, the Texans' 31-year-old starter who'd been with the team since 2011.
The Texans answered that question yesterday, signing Joseph to a deal that keeps him under contract through the 2017 season. During this offseason, the Texans have doled out about $41.5 million in guarantees to their top three cornerbacks -- $20 million guaranteed to Kareem Jackson (who re-signed in free agency), $11.5 million guaranteed to Joseph and $10.049 million to Johnson, whose entire rookie deal is fully guaranteed.
Joseph is part of the Texans' future. How much? Well, teams don't always honor contracts with players, but Joseph has consistently shown his value to the Texans. In fact, last season, he set or tied single-season career highs in tackles with 75, forced fumbles with two and fumble recoveries with two. The longest interception return of his career came in Week 12 against Cincinnati, when he returned a pick 60 yards for a touchdown.
In the offseasons following the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Joseph had surgery. He had two sports hernia surgeries after the 2012 season and toe surgery after the 2013 season. Because this offseason required no surgeries, Joseph believes this could be one of his best years.
One philosophy is that corner is a position at which you can't have too many good players. For the Texans, that mentality makes sense when you consider defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's use of corners. They really need three starting caliber corners, not two. Of the 10 players who logged the most defensive snaps for the Texans last year, three were corners Jackson, Joseph and A.J. Bouye.
Jackson slid inside on 440 of his 740 snaps last season and when he did, Bouye replaced him outside, where Bouye played almost exclusively. The point here is that the slot role is very important to the Texans and indicates a high priority in having strong numbers at that position.
Cornerback is a position of strength for the Texans defense, and the Texans defense is the team's engine.