The Texans' new defensive coordinator has made the point repeatedly in public forums since his team used three picks in the first five rounds of last April's draft on defensive backs.
Nnamdi Asomugha, the prize of the free-agent market, is ranked in the top tier of NFL cornerbacks in Pat Kirwan's latest position-by-position rankings.
Whether Phillips' message has been heard by general manager Rick Smith or the rest of the Texans' hierarchy is a different story.
"From what I know and what we've talked about (internally), I think we'll be active in free agency, especially as far as the secondary (goes)," Phillips told me during a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "But there may be other priorities, maybe even offensive priorities."
The Texans could use help in other areas besides the defensive backfield or any other spot on defense, for that matter. They are looking to make a serious postseason run, and Smith and coach Gary Kubiak no doubt are feeling some heat over the team's inability to finally get over the hump and into the playoffs on their watch. That pressure ultimately could push the team to look in multiple directions for new players when the lockout ends and free agency and trades begin.
Nevertheless, the Texans clearly view improving their defense as a key element to being strong contenders this season. That was why they hired Phillips last January. That was why their first five draft picks, and six of their eight choices, were defenders.
Phillips understands his job is to make the defense significantly better in a hurry. And he knows he doesn't have all of the necessary tools.
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"We're really young in the secondary overall, and that's more worrisome than anything else," Phillips said. "I think we have some good talent, although I haven't had the players (at the team facility for offseason workouts) to know exactly what we have. I'm going on what the other coaches say and what we've seen on tape."
They might not be able to land him, but Phillips certainly is encouraging them to try and to go after other experienced defensive backs.