Let me be the first to say the Houston Texans are smart to keep 4 running backs on their current active roster. My buddy Mike Kerns called it and said because of all of the injuries you can expect to see 4 running backs headed into the season, and I was really against it saying there are more needs in other spots than running back.
With all of the injuries, especially with Arian Foster (hamstring) and Derrick Ward (ankle) the need is high to have some depth at the position. Steve Slaton is currently 4th on the depth chart, but can be considered the "backup" with the injuries to Foster and Ward. Slaton has 3 carries for 12 yards and one catch for 2 yards, and his playing time seems to be limited at this point despite all of the injuries.
Yesterday while driving home from work it was confirmed that Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is out for the season with an ACL injury. I thought how great it would be for the Texans to at least pick up a phone and give them a courtesy call to see if they are at least interested in the 4 year back out of West Virginia.
I thought of the pros and cons of trading Steve Slaton and this is what I could come up with:
To Be (Trade Him)
His value might never be higher even for a desperate team like the Chiefs or any other team for that matter. The Chiefs are going to have to depend on an aging back, Thomas Jones, an ex-college scat back, Dexter McCluster or an all-pro fullback LeRon McClain to provide a spark for the running game. At least Slaton is similar to what Jamaal Charles brought to the table, notice is said similar not the same. Slaton could go back to an offense that he is used to, a wide open offense that allows him to pick his holes, instead of the patience needed in the zone scheme. He also catches the ball well out of the backfield, which is a big key in Kansas City's offensive gameplan. Slaton has talent, but it is time for him to move on and let the Texans at least salvage a draft pick out of the deal.
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Another thing is the fact Slaton does nothing but sit on the sideline holding a spot on the roster, where that could be used on another nose tackle (wishful thinking), outside linebacker (depth) or player that can contribute on special teams. He is doing nothing but taking up a uniform on the sideline, so why not use that roster spot for someone who can contribute?
No To Be (Keep Him)
With all of the injuries the Texans have had to endure with their running backs Slaton is one snap away from getting majority of the carries, and lets hope that does not happen. Slaton is a great insurance policy, especially knowing he rushed for over 1,000 yards his rookie season in 2008. He had great ability, and came into camp this year as a different player, but injuries slowed him too. It is nice to have 4 running backs for situations like these, because he can fill in for carries and even go back to return kicks.
Slaton also provides some leadership and can help take some pressure off of Foster, Tate and Ward when needed. It is not often when you have an experienced back on the sideline ready to go.
I don't know what the right answer is but the fact the Texans may not get another time like this to get a 3rd or 4th round pick from a needy team like the Chiefs, this opportunity might pass them and the situation may never present itself again. Let's hope the Texans at least explore the idea of moving him when it appears for the market to be high on running backs, because there are not too many teams that can offer a ex-1,000 yard rusher at a bargain basement price.
Remember the Good Days?