Edgerrin James to be released soon – are Texans an option?

After drafting Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round of the NFL draft on Saturday, the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to release running back Edgerrin James soon, possibly even as earlier as this weekend.

James started clamoring that he wanted out of Arizona last season when he started losing carries to Tim Hightower. James carried the ball only 133 times (his lowest total since an injury-plagued 2001 season) for 514 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season. He did rush for 236 yards on 61 carries in the playoffs last year (including the Super Bowl), but even then the writing seemed to be on the wall that he was done in the desert.

If he is released, James will get what he wants, although his market value will be extremely low now that the draft is over. At 30 years old, he’s at the age where teams stop looking at you as a starter and more as a backup in a platoon.

This is just speculation on my part, but one team that could be interested in James is the Texans. Steve Slaton emerged as a quality starter last year, but like most backs in the NFL, he wouldn’t be able to sustain the pounding of a full 16-game season. The team also still has Chris Brown and Ryan Moats on the roster, but Brown spent the entire 2008 season on IR due to a back injury and Moats rushed for just 94 yards on 26 carries last season.

Some speculated that the Texans would pick a running back in the first round of last week’s draft, but they decided to once again address their defense with the selection of linebacker Brian Cushing. Houston then went then entire weekend without taking a running back in any of the seven rounds.

James wouldn’t get more than a one or two year deal at this point, but he could make a nice complement to Slaton as long as he’s motivated. I know James still wants to be a starter, but at this point he better be willing to take a role in a platoon.

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