With NFL free agency starting in less than two weeks, the rumor mill is starting to churn. According to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, the Patriots aren't an exception. Some whispers are starting to emerge about their potential interest in defensive end Mario Williams.
Williams might get the franchise tag from Houston, but if he doesn't he'll immediately become the most sought after free agent (along with perhaps Peyton Manning?).
For New England, the move would be a no-brainer. Bill Belichick has done a nice job of keeping some cap space and could use it to rebuild his mediocre defense. Instead of having to use a high draft pick on an outside linebacker, Belichick could move swiftly and take an established player.
The Texans will want to keep him, but at what price? After Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, rookie Brooks Reed filled in very nicely and helped injury-plagued Houston go on a nice playoff run. Nobody is suggesting here that Reed will ever be Williams, but maybe the Texans take the money they were going to pay Williams and invest it in a wide receiver.
Another thing to like is Williams' versatility. Belichick loves players who can move around and fit multiple schemes. Nobody does that like Williams, who can play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 end or standing up in the 3-4.
Mario Williams may not ever see free agency. However, if he does, New England will be a strong suitor.