Make the deal for Henson

Drew Henson.<br> <br> By now, you have all heard about the former University of Michigan quarterback. However, does he fit into the Steelers' plans?<br> <br> Bottom line? He should.

According to sources in Houston, the Steelers made some feel-them-out overtures in an attempt to acquire the rights to Drew Henson during the season, offering mid-round draft choices and a player. At the time, the Texans said thanks, but no thanks.

But as the conclusion of the 2003-04 season draws closer and the offseason leaps upon us, you can bet the Texans will be a little more hot to negotiate for the rights to the former Wolverines quarterback.

Houston was widely lauded for its astute use of a sixth-round pick in last year's draft to acquire the rights to Henson, who has spent the past few years as a third baseman in the New York Yankees farm system.

But once this year's draft rolls around, Henson will go back into the draft and Houston will lose his rights. Sure, it only cost the Texans a sixth-round draft choice for their gamble on Henson, but there is no doubt they would rather get something for him than nothing.

"I think with Drew Henson it's simple," Texans general manager Charlie Casserly said following the draft last year. "If Drew Henson came out when he was scheduled to, he certainly would have been a first-round pick."

Of that, there is little doubt. But where does Henson fit into this year's draft? That is the magic question.

Because Houston owns his rights, Henson cannot work out for another NFL team without permission from the Texans. In addition, the Texans are not likely to give a team the right to work Henson out unless they already have a deal in place to trade for him.

It is a tough call, but Henson would likely be a late-first, early-second round choice, meaning he would be gone by the time the Steelers pick in the second round.

But the rumors emanating out of Houston now say the Texans will take a future second round choice for the rights to Henson. That is something the Steelers should seriously consider doing.

With Tommy Maddox turning 32, the Steelers need to select their quarterback of the future in this year's draft. Trouble is, it would be quite costly for them to move up to the first or second spot in this year's draft to select the guy they want, Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger.

They could stay at pick No. 11 in the first round, giving them their choice of Tulane's JP Losman or North Carolina State's Phillip Rivers - likely Rivers - but taking a quarterback with the 11th-overall pick would be costly. And given head coach Bill Cowher's contract situation - he's only got two years remaining on his deal - Cowher can't afford to use a premium pick this season on a guy who isn't going to make any kind of impact on the 2004 season. He already did that in 2003 with second-round pick Alonzo Jackson.

But trading a future second-round choice for Henson would allow the Steelers to fill their needs this season, while also getting their QB of the future.

It would be a bold move, but it is one the Steelers should make.

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