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Texans Steal Rival's Star

Ed Reed instantly makes J.J. Watt even better: Power shifts in AFC with genius Rick Smith signing

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The already dominant J.J. Watt now has the ultimate leadership teacher to turn to in Ed Reed.  Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
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Doubt Rick Smith at your own risk.

After nearly two weeks of near panic from Houston Texans fans — and an outright plea from this very columnist — Smith showed why he's one of the best general managers in all of professional sports, reeling in the difference-making free agent Houston's NFL team desperately needs. Ed Reed is set to become a Texan.

His Wednesday night signing sends shock waves from Baltimore to New England and instantly makes J.J. Watt even better. The already dominant 23-year-old Watt will now be able to get first-hand leadership lessons from one of the fiercest defensive generals in recent football history.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak urged Watt to take on even more of a leadership role in the defensive end's exit interview after that second round playoff loss to New England — and now Watt has a great example to look to in that department.

 The already dominant Watt will now get first-hand leadership lessons from one of the NFL's all-time fiercest defensive generals. 

Make no mistake, this win-move now should also pay off in the future long after the 34-year-old Reed's best days are behind him.

And Reed figures to be plenty potent on the field for the next two seasons at least, adding another ballhawk, turnover creator to a Wade Phillips defense that already has Watt and safety Danieal Manning wreaking havoc. That safety combination of Reed and Manning instantly becomes one of the most feared duos in the league.

Think opposing wide receivers will be hearing footsteps against this revamped Bulls On Parade secondary? Hold onto the football or else.

The timing on the move must make it even sweeter in a way for the ever calculating, ever patient Smith. It comes less than 24 hours after the Houston Chronicle emphatically declared that Reed and the Texans were "not close on a deal." It comes less than 12 hours after Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti went on the NFL Network and haughtily said "we have him" when asked his thoughts on Reed resigning with his team.

Oops! Rick Smith did it again.

CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora first broke the news of the Texans landing Reed on Twitter. Other outlets then tried to take credit for La Confora's story. And it's the story in Houston. 

 Think opposing wide receivers will be hearing footsteps? Hold onto the football or else. 

Sorry Rockets, your near big blowout and eventual win over the Utah Jazz is instantly relegated to a nice sidenote. The Texans — clearly the team in Houston — are making a big play.

This time Smith outmaneuvered Ozzie Newsome, maybe the opposing general manager he respects most to get Reed. This move alone doesn't instantly make the Texans better than they were with Glover Quin and Connor Barwin, but Smith is just getting started. He has plenty of draft picks to mine and if he can turn one of those into a difference-making wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson, the Texans will be a much more fearsome threat to the likes of the Patriots, the Broncos and those Reed-missing Ravens.

For more on why this is a move the Texans had to make, read my full column from earlier today that argued Smith needed to up it a notch to land Reed. And Smith did up the Texans' initial $4 million per year offer, giving Reed the chance to make more than $5 million a season.

Of course, Rick Smith got it done in the end. Should anyone be surprised?

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