Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 3/13/12
HOUSTON Bob McNair essentially euthanized the already dying Peyton Manning-to-Houston rumor. The Texans owner on Tuesday said during an hour-long interview on Sports Radio 610 in Houston that even though the Texans offered Manning his best chance to win a second Super Bowl, any team signing Manning would be taking a big risk. "If there were an ideal club for him to be with, if it was just his decision alone, it would be the Texans, because that'd give him the best chance to win, and that's really what he's looking for," McNair said. "But we have a quarterback we're happy with, and the teams that he's talking to are the teams that don't have a quarterback and they're taking the risk of bringing a player in, perhaps, that they haven't even worked out. And that's a stretch. I hope Peyton is going to fully recover and be at 100 percent, but he says he's not at 100 percent right now, he's at 80, 85 percent, something like that. But it remains to be seen. That's a real question mark." The Texans, who won the AFC South and advanced to the second round of the NFL playoffs last season, anticipate having a healthy Matt Schaub at quarterback in 2012. Schaub was lost for the season in November because of a foot injury. The Texans say Schaub's recovery is progressing on schedule. "I'm confident that will not be an issue," McNair said. "Of course, foot speed has not been his strong suit, so we're not too worried about him losing a step. But I think he'll be able to perform the bootlegs and do everything that makes him a very valuable quarterback. I think he's capable and our coaches think he's capable of leading us to a Super Bowl victory." Though never on Manning's level, the 30-year-old Schaub has been among the league's better quarterbacks for the past three seasons. He threw for 9,140 yards and 53 touchdowns from 2009-10 and had 2,479 yards and 15 touchdowns after 10 games in 2011. Houston was 7-3 in games Schaub started last season. Though the speculation the Texans would pursue Manning had waned in recent days, it received a jolt Monday when the Texans surprised fans around the NFL by releasing popular offensive tackle Eric Winston, who hit the free-agent market Tuesday and heard from about a third of the teams in the NFL. McNair said the move was based purely on the salary cap, which was not raised as much this season as the Texans anticipated. That move, as with the release of backup quarterback Matt Leinart, inspired speculation Houston was making room for a major signing, most likely of Manning or Texans linebacker Mario Williams, who officially became a free agent Tuesday afternoon and is expected to command a salary that might make him the richest defensive player in NFL history. McNair's comments Tuesday indicated the Texans were far more interested in retaining Williams than bringing in Manning. "We're more concerned about keeping our core players and free agents and trying to re-sign them as opposed to bringing in someone else," McNair said. McNair said the Texans would do everything they can to keep Williams, but he noted the team is also trying to retain offensive lineman Chris Myers and Mike Brisiel and tight end Joel Dreessen. "We've got a lot of guys we would like to keep, so we're trying to keep that core group together as best we can," McNair said. "That's our focus." If the Texans don't pursue Manning, as it appears they won't, there is a chance he could end up back as a divisional rival of Houston's again. And not just as any divisional rival, but as a member of the Tennessee Titans, who used to be the Houston Oilers, who are owned by Bud Adams, who is a longtime friend of McNair's. McNair was asked if that would bother him. "You know, we beat him when he was healthy," he said, "and we'll do it again."
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