Texans to sign ex-Cards DE Smith

Updated: March 1, 2009, 2:03 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith cashed in on his team's trip to the Super Bowl by landing one of the top defensive end contracts in the past couple of years.

Smith
Smith

Smith agreed to a five-year, $35 million contract with the Houston Texans on Saturday that will pay him $24 million over the first three years of the contract.

The free agent, who had eight tackles and a sack in the Super Bowl, didn't take long to gush about playing opposite No. 1 pick Mario Williams.

"I think it's going to be a great pair," Smith said. "I think that having him on the other side is going to be fun. I like to have fun out there, and I think that's exactly what it's going to be. We're going to cause a lot of havoc for the offensive linemen out there."

Smith was fifth-round pick of the Cardinals who didn't get a start until his second season.

The signing reunites Smith with new Texans defensive coordinator Frank Bush, who was an assistant with the Cardinals before coming to Houston two years ago.

"From the beginning of my career, he always kept me grounded," Smith said. "He always kept me hungry, making me work. He raised my level of play, even as a practice squad player, teaching me just how to practice and how to always go hard and how to always give it my all."

Smith, 27, will receive $15.5 million this year and $19.4 million over the first two years of the deal.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman has also shown his versatility through the years. He's played in a 3-4 defense the past couple years for the Cardinals, but he's also been successful when the Cardinals used a 4-3.

In five seasons in Arizona, he had 14 sacks. Over the past four years, he's averaged 41 tackles a season.

The Texans also re-signed four of their own free agents Saturday: tight end Joel Dreessen, defensive end Stanley McClover, center Chris White and safety Eugene Wilson.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer