With the 2012 NFL season over, for them anyhow, the Houston Texans' front office will begin their offseason process. This consists of the continued evaluation of draft-eligible prospects, the re-evaluation of the coaching staff, and, naturally, the evaluation of their own free agents.
The Texans can sign players to future contracts for 2013 training camp. In regards to free agency, the new league year kicks off on March 12 at 3 p.m. central time. Prior to that, teams will have an exclusive 72-hour window to negotiate with their own players or to slap franchise tags on them.
The Texans currently have a list of 20 free agents. Below, I'll list them, in position group order, and offer some thoughts on their future as a Texan.
|Position||Player Name||Type of Free Agent||Thoughts|
|RB||Justin Forsett||Unrestricted||Personally, I like Forsett. I think he is a significant change of pace from Arian Foster, moreso than Ben Tate. I think Forsett has a decent shot to return, and I hope he does.|
|FB||James Casey||Unrestricted||A Houston-guy who is versatile. The offense could make better use of him, as far as motioning him to create mismatches. I'd be surprised if he wasn't re-signed.|
|OT||Rashad Butler||Unrestricted||After losing his starting job to Derek Newton, I'd be stunned if he got an offer from Houston. I'm also sure he'll try and find a starting job somewhere.|
|OT||Andrew Gardner||Restricted||Being restricted helps his cause, but I would simply draft a better tackle. I wouldn't be surprised if he returned for the one-year minimum.|
|OT||Ryan Harris||Unrestricted||He was only signed to fill an injury-vacated spot. I don't think Harris returns, especially if they want to add a better tackle to properly challenge Newton.|
|OG||Antoine Caldwell||Unrestricted||A change of scenery is needed. Caldwell has often been hurt in Houston and played pretty disappointingly. With two youngsters in his spot, there's no need for him to return.|
|NT||Shaun Cody||Unrestricted||Somehow, Cody always surprises, so he very well could be back. However, he really doesn't add much as a starter. He isn't a lane-stuffer nor is he a pocket-collapser to make QBs move. He can and should be replaced.|
|OLB||Connor Barwin||Unrestricted||According to Mr. Kollmann, Barwin still was top-three in QB hits and pressures and suffered from a lack of interior rush. If no one overpays for Barwin, I think he stays, but it's a very uncertain situation. I'll put it at 30/70.|
|OLB||Jesse Nading||Unrestricted||Nading's well-liked by the coaching staff and decent on special teams, but he doesn't offer much defensively in a 3-4. I can see Houston moving on with a project OLB.|
|ILB||Tim Dobbins||Unrestricted||Dobbins is a special teams captain and short-yardage LB, but the entire ILB corps needs an injection of youth, athleticism, and coverage skills. Still, Dobbins is the most likely ILB to return.|
|ILB||Keyaron Fox||Unrestricted||I don't even know who this is.|
|ILB||Bradie James||Unrestricted||James was supposed to be a veteran back-up to Brian Cushing and Darryl Sharpton. Due to injury, James was featured and most people did not like what they saw. Again, this position corps needs youth and athleticism. James offers neither and shouldn't return.|
|ILB||Barrett Ruud||Unrestricted||Late season, off-the-street addition who struggled in coverage. Pass.|
|CB||Alan Ball||Unrestricted||Admittedly, Ball is a very good special teamer, but the Texans can draft bodies, with upside no less, for special teams. Ball offers nothing as a cornerback. I'm sure he'll want to go somewhere where he can play defense.|
|CB||Brice McCain||Unrestricted||McCain was lights out in 2011 and ineffective in 2012. Meanwhile, Brandon Harris did show improvement with consistent play time. It's 50-50 on McCain's return. I imagine Houston will want to re-sign him on the cheap for a camp battle with Harris and to bolster CB depth.|
|CB||Stanford Routt||Unrestricted||Signed after McCain went down to injury and, by my recollection, was never active. Routt will go elsewhere for an opportunity.|
|S||Quintin Demps||Unrestricted||He played so poorly that Houston trotted out Shiloh Keo to play defense ahead of Demps. Shiloh. Keo. Demps will not return.|
|S||Glover Quin||Unrestricted||As the best free agent on the roster, Quin is a must re-sign. He's the ideal Wade Phillips safety with ability to man up as a corner-safety hybrid, tackle in the run game, and blitz off the edge. I imagine the Texans will do everything to bring him back for four or five years. If I had to guess a ballpark deal then I'll say 5-years for around $23M.|
|K||Shayne Graham||Unrestricted||Randy Bullock should be healthy and able to re-gain his leg strength and job. I don't think Graham is invited back for another position battle. If he is then you really need to question why Bullock was even drafted in the first place.|
|P||Donnie Jones||Unrestricted||Jones did well and did not seem to screw up too much. I say he's brought back.|
Agree with my take, BRB Faithful, or am I over and/or under-rating someone? Use the comments to discuss free agent madness.