The Cincinnati Bengals announced this weekend
that they would not match the offer that the Houston Texans extended to wide
receiver Kevin Walter. Walter was a restricted free agent for the Bengals.
During the press conference held Saturday,
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis took the opportunity to speak about Walter,
saying “Kevin has been a fine player for us, and he
deserves the opportunity he’ll get in Houston to be a starting receiver,” Lewis
said. “But as we build our roster for the upcoming season, we believe it’s in
the best interest of our team to allocate these funds to another position.”
According to a
statement released by the Bengals, the team had tendered Walter an offer at his
“draft status” level, requiring any other team signing him to compensate
Cincinnati with a draft pick in the same round in which Walter entered the NFL.
Walter was a seventh-round draft choice of the N.Y. Giants in 2003, and the
Bengals will receive Houston’s seventh-round choice in next month’s draft.
The Texans offered
Walter a four year deal worth $6.4 million. Additionally, Walter will receive a
$2 million dollar signing bonus for joining the Texans.
It is expected that
Walter will join his new team in Houston on Tuesday, March 21, a day after the
Texans begin their off-season training program.
Walter will be a
welcome addition to the Texans, who have already lost two wide receivers to free
agency. Jabar Gaffney has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and Corey Bradford has signed with the Detroit Lions.
It was reported in
the Houston Chronicle on Sunday that Texans general manager Charlie Casserly
said that "The reason we targeted him on the first day of free agency was
because we thought he was a good young talent."
Walter has three years of NFL experience, all
with the Cincinnati Bengals. During his career total 43 games, Walter has
totaled 30 receptions for 296 yards and one touchdown.
Walter attended college at Eastern Michigan
before being drafted in 2003. Originally on the practice squad for the Bengals,
Walter was given an opportunity to suit up on the field and play 11 games during
his first season to replace Lawrence Hamilton after Hamilton failed to catch a
pass during the Bengals first five games. That season, Walter managed to bring
down a total of three receptions. Since that time, Walter was being brought
into plays more and more during his next few season with the Bengals.
The Texans were also interested in another wide
receiver in the Viking’s Nate Burleson, but it is reported that the Texans are
backing off and have cancelled a visit with Burleson that was set for this
week. If the Texans had signed Burleson they would have lost yet another draft
pick in the upcoming draft.