To make a slight change from the talk of the season, we fast forward just a bit to what the Houston Texans will be facing when the off season hits. We are talking about what free agents the Texans should be keeping close tabs on as the season progresses. The team will evaluate as more games are played, but as of right now we are going to give you the top four players they need to focus their efforts on bringing back for the coming seasons.
We are looking at value, as of right now, and what we think should be done when contracts are up for renewal. Getting Matt Schaub and Duane Brown new contracts were a huge step for the front office to focus on the group at hand. Also, bringing back defensive end Tim Jamison was another quality signing the Texans had under the radar.
We know it is early, but it is something to look at. Check out our early list.
The Potential Free Agents
Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, Antoine Caldwell, James Casey, Shaun Cody, Tim Dobbins, Justin Forsett, Andrew Gardner, Shayne Graham, Ryan Harris, Trindon Holliday, Bradie James, Donnie Jones, Brice McCain, Jesse Nading, Troy Nolan, Glover Quin
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Our Top Four Free Agents to Sign
4. Connor Barwin (Outside Linebacker, 25 years old)
Barwin was our early number one priority, after Schaub and Brown were signed, but the early season has not been kind to him. After posting 11.5 sacks in 2011, Barwin has been shutout to date. He has been handling his run duties, but after an impact season last year, he is going to be needed more than ever with Brian Cushing lost for the season. He is essenitally playing for a contract here in Houston, but the reality is if he doesn't perform up to par some other team will throw a big contract at him hoping he can regain his 2011 form. Barwin has the chips in his hand, either stay in Houston or find greener pastures. The truth is the Texans will not break the bank to keep him, especially with Whitney Mercilus waiting for his chance.
3. Brice McCain (Cornerback, 25 years old)
He finally came alive against the New York Jets and had some big impact plays. One of the key pieces of the Texans dime package, McCain when playing well is one of the best corners out of the slot in the NFL. Having a breakout season in 2011, he has gotten off to a slow start but he is showing signs of life. McCain is another player where Brandon Harris and Roc Carmichael will be used as the insurance if the negotiations do not go well. Once again, the team will not go out of their financial means to bring McCain back, especially with two cheaper and hungry players ready to get on the field. McCain is everything you want in a slot corner, but is he worth a bigger deal in Houston is the real question.
2. James Casey (Fullback/Tight End, 28 years old)
This is where it gets interesting for the Texans and it starts with Casey. It is no secret what he means to the offense, the city of Houston and Rice University, which makes me think the team might be able to get a reasonable deal done for the jack of all trades. Age is a factor too, and Casey knowing this could potentially be his last time to make a big splash, contract wise, could be a factor. The truth is Casey is an important asset to the franchise and the team, and bringing him back should be one of the first things to get done when the offeseason hits. He is the #1 offensive priority and keeping him in Houston will only make this team better.
1. Glover Quin (Safety, 26 years old)
I really doubt this will change, but Quin is the highest priority for the Texans to bring back to the team. The most underrated defensive player for the Texans, Quin does it all. He plays safety (both Free and Strong), slot corner and linebacker at any given time during the game. He is a sure tackler and has turned into a solid safety after the transition from cornerback in 2011. He is probably the main reason Wade Phillips is comfortable staying in their dime package so much during the game. Make no mistake, Quin needs a new contract to keep him in Houston and keep a key piece of the defense in Houston for years to come.
What do you think, do we have the Texans free agent priorities in order?