Houston Texans: Bryan Braman

During the past week seven former Houston Texans -- six on defense -- became unrestricted free agents and signed with other teams. Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell signed with the Dolphins, defensive end Antonio Smith signed with the Raiders, inside linebackers Darryl Sharpton signed with Washington and Joe Mays signed with the Chiefs, outside linebacker Bryan Braman with the Eagles, and backup nose tackle Terrell McClain signed with the Cowboys. There was also Ben Tate's defection to the Cleveland Browns, a move rumored for several months.

But the Texans haven't been losing players so much as they've been letting them go.

Smith
Tate
Tate
The clearest example of this came with Smith, a starter for all five seasons he spent with Houston.

"The feel I got from the Texans was a feel of a third-down rusher coming off the bench," Smith told Mark Berman of Fox 26. Smith received an affordable two-year deal worth $9 million.

Tate wasn't a guy the Texans wanted to bring back, preferring to go with Arian Foster, a draft pick and a young player from the gaggle of them they have now. He only received $6.2 million over three years from the Browns to be their starter, according to reports of the NFLPA's records. By comparison, the Texans are paying their starting running back $6.25 million this year, including his roster bonus, on a contract that averages $8.7 million per year.

The high number of defensive departures might have a lot to do with a changing system, but it makes clear that there will be a degree of rebuilding for the Texans next season.

The Texans' plan is yet unfolding, and a lot of it will involve toughening up the current roster. But you can't let go of four starters (we'll count both Mays and Sharpton as starters since they did for most of the season) without admitting you're rebuilding the roster. Add to it the Texans' likelihood to have a new starter at quarterback in September, and possibly a new right tackle and left guard, and you have quite a bit of change.

Where did former Texans go?

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
9:15
PM ET
While the Texans didn't sign any players during the first two days of free agency, several of their own who became free agents did.

A rundown:

Mitchell
NT Earl Mitchell -- The Houston native hopped on a flight to South Florida on Tuesday evening and by Wednesday morning had signed a four-year deal worth $16 million with $9 million in guarantees with the Miami Dolphins. Mitchell had decided by Monday night that he wasn't coming back to the Texans because another team would pay more.

LB Joe Mays -- After joining the Texans during training camp last season, Mays started in 13 of the 14 games he played. He was particularly important after the Texans lost inside linebacker Brian Cushing. The Texans did not make a run at Mays, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on a two-year deal worth $6 million.

LB Bryan Braman -- He got a recommendation from a former coach in order for the Texans to sign him because of past character concerns that caused the rest of the league to shy away. Braman quickly became a fan favorite in Houston as one of the Texans' top special teams players and never had off-the-field problems. The Texans did not tender Braman, who was to be a restricted free agent if they had. According to a report, they did make him an offer, but he opted to test the market instead. He signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for $3.15 million with $1 million guaranteed.

NT Terrell McClain -- McClain backed up Mitchell this year and was another of the three pending restricted free agents that the Texans didn't tender. He signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Meanwhile...

RB Ben Tate -- Visited the Cleveland Browns today.

DE Antonio Smith -- Visited the Washington Redskins on his way to Tennessee.

TE Owen Daniels -- Visited the Green Bay Packers after being released Tuesday.

SPONSORED HEADLINES