With his primary anticipated free agent bidder the Baltimore Ravens out of the picture, wide receiver Kevin Walter chose to re-sign with the Houston Texans over the weekend.
Since the top available free agent wide receivers are generally either restricted or unrestricted players with baggage, Walter was rumoured to be a target for numerous teams with the Ravens a strong candidate to acquire his services.
However, Baltimore acquired Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals for a pair of mid-round picks and the market for Walter never seemed to materialize. Reports indicate he signed a $21.5 million, 5 year contract that includes $8 million in guarantees. The deal is slightly less than Nate Burleson’s 5 year, $25 million deal with the Detroit Lions.
Walter missed the first two games of last season with a hamstring injury which may explain why he was not able to duplicate the career year he enjoyed in 2008. His production dropped from 899 yards and eight touchdowns to just 611 yards and two touchdowns in 2009. His average yards per catch also dropped from 15.0 to 11.5.
Walter’s fantasy prospects were almost certainly enhanced by re-upping with the Texans. The team is familiar with what he brings to the table – reliability, a willingness to go over the middle and block in the running game and the occasional big play. The Texans are a pass heavy team and a move to another team would likely have relegated him to a more minor role.
In Houston, with tight end Owen Daniels coming off a torn ACL and backup wide receiver Jacoby Jones having yet to earn the trust of the coaching staff, Walter should record between 700-800 receiving yards and 4-6 touchdowns.
The speedster Jones could eat into Walter’s playing time but it speaks volumes that the club chose to re-sign Walter rather than hand the starting spot over to Jones even though Jones is entering his 4th year in the league.
Quarterback Matt Schaub also benefits from having three talented wide receivers in the team’s stable as well as quality 4th and 5th wide receivers in David Anderson and Andre’ Davis. Barring a return to form from third year player Steve Slaton, the team acquiring Thomas Jones or using 1st or 2nd round pick on a running back in the rookie draft, Schaub may once again lead the league in passing yards which makes him a possible top three fantasy quarterback.