Cornerstone move: Texans, CB Joseph strike five-year deal

The Texans agreed to terms with Johnathan Joseph, the cornerback confirmed to the Houston Chronicle on Thursday, likely taking the team out of the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes.

"I'm real excited about this, excited about becoming a Texan," Joseph told the newspaper. "This (free agency) has been a grind, and I'm glad to get it over and get back to work.

"The Texans have a great offense and a lot of talent on defense. I think I can help the defense. I've got experience, and I'm very competitive, and I'm ready to go to work."

A person with knowledge of Joseph's deal told The Associated Press it was for five years and worth $48.75 million, with $23.5 million guaranteed.

The Texans went 6-10 last season and were desperate to land a top-tier cornerback. They were considered front-runners to land Asomugha, a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback, but this move makes that unlikely, leaving the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets in the mix.

But Joseph, 27, is three years younger than Asomugha, and he intercepted nine passes in his last two seasons in Cincinnati. The Bengals drafted Joseph out of South Carolina with the 24th overall pick in 2006.

The revamping of Houston's porous secondary didn't stop there. The team also agreed to terms with safety Danieal Manning on a four-year, $20 million deal, with $9 million guaranteed, the Chronicle reported Thursday. Manning will receive $11.5 million over the first two years of the deal.

Manning spent his first five seasons with the Chicago Bears, with whom he started all 16 games in 2010, registering 72 tackles and an interception. He has 343 combined tackles in his career, with two sacks and seven picks. The Bears selected Manning in the second round of the 2006 draft.

The Texans open training camp Sunday and will start work on shoring up the NFL's worst pass defense from 2010.

Houston allowed an average of 268 passing yards per game and 33 touchdown passes overall. Defensive coordinator Frank Bush was fired, and the team brought in Wade Phillips to install a 3-4 alignment.

The Texans used six of their eight draft picks on defensive players -- three on defensive backs. Phillips has said he plans to move 2010 sacks leader Mario Williams to outside linebacker and Glover Quin to safety.

But the Texans also needed an effective cornerback to shore up a secondary that gave up a league-high 18 receptions covering 40 yards or more. While Asomugha was considered the best free-agent cornerback available, Joseph has more interceptions (14) over the past five seasons than Asomugha (11).

One of the Texans' main priorities now is re-signing All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, the lead blocker for 2010 NFL leading rusher Arian Foster. Ralph Vitolo, Leach's agent, said this week that the Texans contacted him and expressed interest in bringing back Leach.

On Wednesday, the Texans brought back quarterback Matt Leinart, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and tackle Rashad Butler.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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