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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Why Texans shouldn't chase Vonta Leach

By Paul Kuharsky

If the Houston Texans move forward with their interest in Vonta Leach, their old fullback, it’ll send a terrible message to late-career veterans the team looks to recruit in the future.

The Texans let Leach walk for big money two years ago.

When James Casey, an H-back miscast as a fullback, bolted for Philadelphia this offseason, the Texans signed Greg Jones.

Greg Jones
In Greg Jones, the Texans have a fullback capable of doing more than just block out of the backfield.
The former Jaguar is a quality blocker. He’s 32 and heading into his 10th season. He’s not a long-term piece, but he’s a pro who can do what the Texans need done from a lead blocker for Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

Now both Mark Berman of Fox in Houston and Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle report the Texans are interested in a return engagement for Leach.

If the Texans were to sign Leach, would they be asking him to come in and compete for the fullback job? Or would they be giving up on Jones?

If it’s the former scenario, I guess it’s fine. Though why you need a competition of that level between two very good veterans is a good question and you’re basically holding one hostage when he could be entrenching himself elsewhere now instead of when you cut him later. (It would be monstrously silly to keep both as Casey played just 53.3 percent of the Texans' offensive snaps last year.)

If it’s the latter scenario, I’ve got huge objections.

It would mean the Texans swallow $400,000 guaranteed of Jones’ one-year, $1 million contract. A team that’s tight against the cap can’t be throwing $400,000 away on a guy they don’t ever let take the field and have no complaint with. (How could they have a complaint about a fullback in June, when a fullback’s performance is based on physical play and physical play doesn’t start until late July?)

Jones would have every right to be upset and feel mistreated.

Teams make decisions all the time based on what’s available at the time, then they move on.

Fullback is not a position of need, no matter the good feelings and sentimentality they may have for Leach. He’s only six months younger than Jones.

Circumstances change, sure. But as good as Leach is, he’s not so much better than Jones that it’s something they absolutely have to do.

I asked a scout if Leach is better than Jones.

“Not better, just different,” he said. “Jones is very versatile, can run with ball, solid hands, good athlete. Leach is a blocker first, can catch but not going to be a threat.”

How much better a blocker, I asked.

“Not enough,” he said. “I would rather have the versatile player.”

If the Texans make this move, the next late-career free agent whom the Texans court will have to ask himself whether the team really wants him, or if it would jump for a slightly better alternative in a matter of months.