AFC Rumors: Texans, Patriots, Ihedigbo

While upgrading at quarterback will be a priority for the Texans, reaching an agreement to keep A.J. Bouye in Houston will be the AFC South champions’ top priority, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle notes. This gels with what came out of Houston last week, with a report indicating the team eyes a Bouye re-up and a DeAndre Hopkins extension. Finishing behind only the Broncos’ standout pair on Pro Football Focus’ 2016 cornerback rankings, Bouye emerged as one of 2016’s top breakout players, and McClain Chronicle comrade Aaron Wilson expects the fifth-year player to secure a deal that pays him upwards of $13MM annually. Bouye comes in at No. 7 on PFR’s Free Agent Power Rankings.

Here’s more from Houston and some other AFC locales.

  • Bob McNair said the Texans will target a young quarterback in the draft after an investment in Brock Osweiler did not generate much this season. This means the team does not stand to be a player in the Tony Romo sweepstakes. At least, that was the last update coming out of Houston. But McClain expects the Texans to take a look at Romo if he hits free agency. McClain agrees with’s Ian Rapoport by saying the Texans won’t be interested in trading for Romo, and the longtime Houston reporter notes the soon-to-be 37-year-old quarterback will have to take a big pay cut if he wants to play for the Texans. However, McClain doesn’t expect the team to bypass this potentially high-caliber stopgap solution entirely.
  • No surprise walkoff retirement appears to be in the cards for Tom Brady, with the 39-year-old passer relishing in the joy of the Patriots‘ most recent Super Bowl championship and saying on Instagram (via Ryan Hannable of the mythical nature of winning championships is “why I’ll never stop as long as I’m able.” Brady insisted he wants to play into his mid-40s, and remaining a top-tier quarterback by that time would put him on uncharted terrain. Brett Favre serves as basically the only comparison of a 40-year-old high-end passer. The Patriots, though, aren’t counting on a slowdown soon, planning an extension after the 2017 season.
  • Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent, and Joel Corry of CBS Sports (via Twitter) expects the Patriots to place a rare first-round tender on their top cornerback. Corry anticipates that price to come in at nearly $4MM after settling in at just over $3.6MM last year. Another team would have to surrender a first-round pick to sign Butler in the event the Patriots don’t match the offer sheet.
  • James Ihedigbo became a starter almost immediately after signing with the Bills late in the season, and although the veteran safety ended his year on IR, he wants to return to the Bills, he told the team’s website. The 33-year-old Ihedigbo made three starts for the Bills, his fifth NFL employer, last season.
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