Jim Taylor’s franchise rushing record is safe, and the Green Bay Packers need a new starting running back.
Ahman Green agreed to terms of a contract with the Houston Texans on Sunday. Green tested the free-agent waters when the Packers wouldn’t give him a multiyear deal averaging $5 million per season. The Texans did that, and more, giving Green a four-year contract worth $23 million, including $6.5 million in guaranteed money, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Green’s best seasons came when Mike Sherman was the Packers’ head coach from 2000 to 2004. Sherman is Houston’s offensive coordinator, and the Texans run the zone scheme employed by the Packers.
Green averaged 1,370 yards during Sherman’s five-year tenure and scored a total of 48 touchdowns. In 2003, he set a team record with 1,883 yards rushing. That eclipsed Taylor’s mark of 1,474 yards in 1962 by more than 400 yards.
Last season, Green bounced back from a season-ending thigh injury to rush for 1,059 yards in 14 games.
“We’re excited to get this deal done, because Ahman’s been a successful running back in this league for a long time,” general manager Rick Smith told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re going to hitch our wagon to him.
“We’re not worried about his age because he takes great care of himself and is in great condition. One of the many things we like about him is his versaility. Not only can he run the ball, but he's an excellent receiver, too. We think he's an ideal fit for our system.”
Taylor, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, rushed for 8,207 yards from 1958 to 1966. Green rushed for 8,162 yards in two fewer seasons, 2000 to 2006. Green rushed for at least 1,000 yards in all seven seasons except 2005, when he was limited to five games before rupturing a quadriceps tendon.
Green spent the weekend in Houston, visiting the Texans and taking in a Houston Rockets game on Saturday night.
“I’m just looking for a situation where I feel comfortable around the players and the coaches, where I can be myself,” Green said Sunday before the deal was announced. “Come down here and just play football and have fun. That is what I’m looking for.”
After meeting with Denver and Houston, Green told reporters in Houston earlier on Sunday that he was canceling other scheduled visits to teams and could “possibly” make his decision in the next 24 hours.
“I have gotten to the point where I have seen enough,” Green said. “I don’t need to venture out anymore. I know a few teams that are disappointed because I did have some visits set up, but from the two teams that I have visited, I don’t need to see anymore.”
Green said facing the possibility of leaving Green Bay would be difficult.
“That’s where the majority of my career is at,” Green said. “I think speaking in general with anybody that has been in a situation for a long time, regardless of if it was good or bad, I’ve been there seven years. Some good, some bad, but regardless of the fact, staying or leaving will be tough. I don’t know yet, but, I think for anybody generally speaking it would be tough to do. When you’re a kid and you transfer a school, and that school you have all your buddies, regardless of if it was good times or bad times, it’s still a tough time to leave.”
Green had indicated he preferred to stay in Green Bay earlier this off-season. He was scheduled to appear at the Packers’ annual Fan Fest next weekend in Green Bay.
With Green out, the Packers are left with Vernand Morency, an inexperienced but quick back who was obtained for Gado in a trade with the Texans last season. Morency gained 434 yards on 96 carries last year. Noah Herron, who finished with 150 rushing, played behind Morency.
Green Bay also could look to address their running back needs with the No. 16 pick in the NFL draft next month, or obtain another running back through free agency.