Here's a closer look at Texans defensive end Antonio Smith in a Q&A with bigfatdrunk from Battle Red Blog.
Do you think the Texans will re-sign Smith? If not, what will they miss?
Battle Red Blog: I think the decision to keep him will be all about the money. The Texans have serious cap problems heading into 2014, no matter how gracious Roger Goodell will be with it. Smith brings all those warm and fuzzy chemistry traits to a team. He's an intense, boisterous player who leads both by words and example. His teammates love him, and you never hear a negative word about.
So why would they let him go?
BRB: Well, there's the Texans' aforementioned salary cap picture, and he'll play the majority of 2014 at 33-years-old. In addition, his play started to show his age in the second half of the season. Four-and-a-half of his five sacks came in the first half, and he was pretty much absent in the second half aside from the New England game. Yes, he was decent in the Oakland game, but what defensive lineman didn't look good against Oakland?
Smith has long left a lot to be desired against the run, and it's getting even worse. There isn't a huge drop-off in his stats from previous years, but when you consider opposing teams were throwing everything at J.J. Watt, it means Smith was consistently in 1-on-1 battles. And he wasn't winning too many of them. He's had a very solid career, but it's coming to an end.
Any idea what a team would have to pay to add Smith?
BRB: I haven't heard any salary expectations set by Smith or his agent, so I'm not sure. I'll speculate he's looking for $2MM to $3MM per year, but that's only a gut guess.
What's the best fit for Smith, then?
BRB: At this point in his career, Smith is best suited as a situational pass rusher in a 3-technique relief role. When the Texans went to nickel and dime defenses the past couple of years, this was his primary role. He still has the quickness to shoot gaps, though his long speed has declined, so he won't be as effective as a DE. If you limit his snaps (less than 200), a team will still get solid production out of him for a couple years. If you ask him to be a starter, I think the decline phase will accelerate.