Texans to Grab Badger

After six months of milking Houston sources for a team that didn't exist, we got our first bite Sunday. Apparently the Texans are going to pluck Brad Badger today.

Building up sources with different teams is part of networking in the NFL. By doing so, you get information such as breaking the Redskins were going to sign Jeff George and then keep him over Brad Johnson, that the Vikes were interested in Lance Johnstone before he came and that Cris Carter is separately courting both the Saints and Eagles for a new landing point.

So it was Sunday when VU, which has tried to cultivate sources in Houston before the Texans were even officially a team paid its first dividend.

Never having tapped our sources there yet concerning the Vikings, we're taking them at their word that when the expansion dispersal draft comes down today, the Texans are going to take Brad Badger from the Vikings -- one of the few players they're going to take.

The Texans have invited eight players to come to Houston -- a sure sign that they will be selected. They are Jacksonville's Tony Boselli, Seth Payne and Gary Walker, Baltimore's Jamie Sharper and Jermaine Lewis and the Jets' Aaron Glenn, Marcus Coleman and Ryan Young. Those eight players alone will account for the required salary cap room needed to close out the draft, but the Texans are expected to take a few more players, but not many.

Many scoffed when VU reported a couple weeks ago that the Texans could take as few as 12 players in the draft have changed their tune now. The team has already said it won't take any player over 30 years old and has little interest in many players that are or have been Pro Bowlers.

The clincher on the Badger draft is that Texans General Manager Charley Casserly was key in getting Badger drafted while in the same capacity with the Redskins and that seeing Badger hold his own as an NFL starter and a versatile backup make him even more attractive to the Texans.

* There is still an outside chance the Texans could take Troy Walters, but, seeing as Jermaine Lewis has been invited to Houston for the draft, the odds are growing longer. VU is told the draft slot came down to those two -- Lewis for his gamebreaking ability and Walters for his low cap number. But, in the end, it was Lewis' ability and experience, both as a return man and a potential starting wide receiver that turned the tide in his favor.
* If the Texans take Badger, he will be one of three offensive tackles taken in the expansion draft, a further reinforcement that Houston will take Fresno State QB David Carr with the first pick in the 2002 draft. With the money a top draft pick QB runs these days, making sure you can protect your investment is a premium.
* It is no coincidence that the eight players almost guaranteed to be taken by the Texans are from the Jags, Ravens and Jets -- three teams with the worst salary cap problems of any teams in the NFL. By being selected in the expansion draft, all of their salary cap ramifications move on to the new team.
* VU is hearing the non-Glazers in the Bucs organization are very concerned about the potential signing of coach Steve Mariucci. Not only is he asking for $6 million a year, the Bucs will have to compensate the 49ers with a draft choice package that will include multiple high draft choices over the next two years if he is signed. Even worse, by getting permission to speak to Mariucci from the Niners, the Glazers said he would be offered both the head coaching and general manager positions -- the current G.M. is Rich McKay, who was given permission to talk to Atlanta about its G.M. position. The Bucs reportedly were looking for compensation -- like a first-round pick in this April's draft -- if Atlanta signed McKay, but VU has been told that by offering the job to Mariucci when submitting its request with the Niners to get an interview, that opened the door for McKay to walk without any compensation. Why weren't the Bucs this stupid when they were in the same division with the Vikings?
* If you want to watch the expansion draft, it will be carried live on ESPN today at 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Minnesota time.

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