Here are five things to watch for the Texans in free agency, which begins on Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT:
1. Quiet status quo: Don’t expect the Texans to do much in free agency aside from trying to re-sign their own players. Their philosophy under general manager Rick Smith has been to build through the draft, re-sign core players and supplement selectively in free agency.
The Texans made a big splash in free agency in 2011 with
Recent history suggests that when the Texans do sign players from other teams, it might be after the dust has settled on major moves around the league. Last year, free agency began on March 13. The Texans didn’t sign an external free agent until punter
2. Quin: One of the Texans’ top priorities in free agency will likely be re-signing free safety
If the Texans don’t re-sign Quin, safety will become a major priority as they don’t have a replacement waiting on the roster.
3. Barwin: Re-signing outside linebacker
A second-round pick in 2009, Barwin led the Texans with 11.5 sacks in 2011. He had just three sacks in 2012 but played 94 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps, more than any other player in the front seven. He has started at both Sam and Will linebacker in the past two seasons.
If the Texans re-sign Barwin, they could move
4. Second-level players: Quin and Barwin have gotten the most attention, but the Texans have several other key players who could create needs if they leave, including fullback
Casey, who lines up at multiple positions, was the lead blocker for Arian Foster in 2012 and set career highs with 34 catches for 330 yards and three touchdowns. McCain, who essentially starts for the Texans as their nickel corner, is coming off a foot injury but was one of the league’s top corners in the slot in 2011.
5. Cap maneuvering: The Texans could negotiate contract extensions and re-negotiations or release players to try to free up money under the salary cap. A prime example is the release of wide receiver
Releasing Walter, a 10-year veteran, would reportedly save the Texans $2.5 million in cap space. The Texans do not release cap information, but spotrac.com says they would be $10.7 million under the cap with Walter off the payroll.
Other moves the Texans could make to free up cap money include contract extensions with Cushing and defensive end