Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Redskins add O-line insurance with tackle Wade
By Len Pasquarelli
The Washington Redskins added some much-needed offensive line insurance on Tuesday, signing veteran free agent Todd Wade, who had been released by the Houston Texans on July 14. Contract details were not immediately available.
Once regarded as a cornerstone for the Houston offensive line, the six-year veteran right tackle played just two years for the Texans after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2004. His tenure in Houston was marked by inconsistency, injury and a big financial investment that went sour for Texans officials.
Still, his addition is a notable one for the Redskins, who sorely lacked experience and depth at all their backup offensive line spots, but particularly at tackle. The top backup to starters Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen had been third-year veteran Jim Molinaro, who appeared in only 13 games, with no starts, in his first two NFL seasons.
Molinaro missed time in training camp, and appeared in just one preseason contest this summer, after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. To create a roster spot for Wade, who is likely to join practice on Wednesday, when the Redskins begin preparations for Monday's season opener against Minnesota, lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe, an undrafted college free agent in 2005, was released.
A former University of Mississippi standout, Wade was chosen by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2000 draft. In four seasons with Miami, he appeared in 63 games, all starts, before signing with the Texans in 2004. At the time, some talent evaluators in the league, while conceding Wade probably represented an upgrade for Houston, questioned the size of the contract the Texans gave him.
That six-year, $30 million contract, which included a $10 million signing bonus, turned out to be a catastrophe for the Texans. Over two years, the Texans paid Wade $12 million in bonuses and salaries, but he never quite lived up to expectations as the Houston line continued to struggle.
Wade, 29, appeared in 14 games in 2004, his first season in Houston, starting 13 times at right tackle. He started the first nine contests in 2005 but then suffered a torn knee ligament and was placed on injured reserve for the balance of the season.
With the change of coaching staff in Houston this season, and the installation of a zone-blocking scheme, Wade became a poor fit. In recent weeks, Wade auditioned for several teams. Given that both Samuels and Jansen have each suffered through injuries over the last few seasons, securing Wade looks like a solid move.
Senior writer Lend Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.