Kicker Kris Brown was one of the Texans' first-ever free agent signings and has produced his fair share of heroics since arriving in 2002.
With free agency officially in swing as of 11:01 p.m. Thursday and a flurry of activity already swirling around the NFL, it's time to review the Texans' free agency history prior to 2008.
From their inaugural 2002 season through the end of 2007, the Texans added 107 players through free agency. Of those players, 55 were signed from other teams.
Head coach Gary Kubiak oversaw a massive roster overhaul upon arriving in Houston prior to the 2006 season. In the first two years under Kubiak's watch and with the arrival of general manager Rick Smith, the Texans added 43 players (25 from other teams) through free agency – compared to the 64 free agents Charley Casserly and Dom Capers brought in during the team's first four seasons.
Additionally, the Texans said goodbye to 11 players through free agency in 2006 and 2007, while only 12 players were let go during the 2003-2005 seasons.
Tracing the history
The Texans' first taste of the free agency market came on March 6, 2002, when center Steve McKinney decided to leave the Indianapolis Colts to play in his native Texas. McKinney played in every game in Texans history until he suffered a season-ending knee injury three games into the 2007 season against, ironically, the Colts.
The Texans' last free agent addition in 2007 was safety Will Demps. The former New York Giant was acquired after the first game of the '07 season to support an ailing Texans secondary. By mid-season, Demps grabbed a starting role and wound up earning Pro Bowl alternate honors.
Between McKinney and Demps, 105 other free agents agreed to don a Texans uniform in the team's first six years.
The most targeted offensive position by the Texans' brass was tackle, where 12 players were added. Wide receiver, with nine players, ranks as the position with the second-most signings. The least-targeted offensive position was center, where the team added only two players.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Texans signed 24 linebackers, followed by 16 cornerbacks. Conversely, Houston brought in just three defensive tackles from 2002-2007.
Let's take a look at a year-by-year breakdown of free agency numbers and key signings:
Signed: 14 players (14 from other teams) / Lost: 0
Still on the roster as of Feb. 29, 2008: C/G Steve McKinney (Indianapolis), K Kris Brown (Pittsburgh), S Jason Simmons (Pittsburgh)
Other notables: WR Corey Bradford (Green Bay), LB Kailee Wong (Minnesota)
Summary: The inaugural class is highlighted by McKinney, who should compete for a starting line spot in 2008, and Brown, the only kicker in team history who is coming off of a Pro Bowl-worthy 2007 season. Bradford led the Texans in receiving yards in 2002, while Wong was one of the team's best defenders for several years.
Signed: 15 players (3) / Lost: 4
Still on the roster: CB Jason Simmons (Houston)
Other notables: LB Jay Foreman (Houston), QB Tony Banks (Houston)
Summary: The Texans retained Simmons and some other key players. Foreman had two 100-plus tackle seasons in Houston, while Banks posted a solid 84.3 quarterback rating in 2003 as backup to David Carr.
Signed: 14 (4) / Lost: 5
Still on the roster: TE Mark Bruener (Pittsburgh), CB Jason Simmons (Houston)
Other notables: DE Gary Walker (Houston)
Summary: Walker earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2002, but was plagued by injuries in the '04 and '05 seasons, his last in the NFL. Bruener has been an outstanding and consistent run-blocker and caught two touchdown passes in 2006.
Signed: 20 (8) / Lost: 3
Still on the roster: LB Morlon Greenwood (Miami), CB Jason Simmons (Houston)
Summary: With 47 starts and 342 tackles in three seasons since his arrival, Greenwood headlines the class, but there isn't much else to speak of besides Simmons.
Signed:25 (18) / Lost:6
Still on the roster:FB Jameel Cook (Tampa Bay), QB Sage Rosenfels (Miami), DE Anthony Weaver (Baltimore), WR Kevin Walter (Cincinnatti), DE N.D. Kalu (Philadelphia), T Ephraim Salaam (Jacksonville)
Other notables:C Mike Flanagan (Green Bay), TE Jeb Putzier (Denver)
Summary:The 2006 crop of players is indicative of the aggressive personnel turnover under Kubiak, who was in his first offseason in Houston. Seven players on this season's free agent signings list started at least once in 2007.
Signed:18 (7) / Lost:5
Still on the roster:RB Ahman Green (Green Bay), LB Danny Clark (New Orleans), T Jordan Black (Kansas City), DT Jeff Zgonina (Miami), CB Jamar Fletcher (Detroit), WR André Davis (Buffalo), S Will Demps (NYG), DB Roc Alexander (Houston), DE N.D. Kalu (Houston), T Ephraim Salaam (Houston), TE Mark Bruener (Houston), FB Vonta Leach (Houston), CB Von Hutchins (Houston), RB Ron Dayne (Houston), LB Charlie Anderson (Houston), SS Glenn Earl (Houston)
Summary:This haul demonstrates Smith's and Kubiak's keen eye for talent, as only one of the 18 players signed did not make the 2007 regular season roster, and only two others are no longer with the team as of the start of free agency. Twelve played in at least eight games or started at least once in 2007. Nine started at least four times.