The NFL lockout hasn't done the Houston Texans any favors.
For all of the talk about how the labor strife has impacted rookie players and rookie head coaches, the Texans also are in bind as they look to switch to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Wade Phillips and, more to the point, change the entire culture on that side of the ball.
There is significant pressure on the franchise to finally break through and reach the playoffs, and that task is only compounded by all of the teaching, learning and bonding time lost because of the lockout. That's all the more reason for the Texans to be aggressive in free agency, and all the more reason for them to target specific areas of the defense.
The Texans indeed are prepared to be aggressive in free agency, according to league sources, and will be among the teams pursuing All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
While awaiting a collective bargaining agreement and new free-agency rules, it's very difficult to gauge the market and how high the price for a top cornerback will go. But look for the Texans to closely monitor that market and determine if the price point on Asomugha fits their budget.
The secondary is an area in need of upgrade, and the Texans routinely have been willing to spend under dedicated owner Bob McNair. So they will target that area in free agency.
A year ago, the Texans let cornerback Dunta Robinson go, a move that was understandable given concerns about his injury history and his salary spiraling on the open market (he signed a six-year, $57 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons). Houston made a concerted push to land free-agent cornerback Leigh Bodden but ultimately lost out as he remained in New England.
Houston also is looking for safety help, and Gerald Sensabaugh is a logical free-agent candidate. I expect the Texans to make a bid for him as well.
Sensabaugh has strong ties to Phillips through their time together in Dallas and knows the coach's system well. Sensabaugh could help teach it to others, with time of the essence after the lockout ends.
Adding a shutdown corner and a dependable safety will be imperative for a Houston team that has fallen prey to critical breakdowns at crucial times and a defense that has yielded shocking amounts of yardage and points far too often. Change is needed, and Phillips will look to shake up the make-up and attitude of that unit whenever the market finally opens.