With 17 free agents to take care of, the Texans will be careful to retain as many as possible. A lot of these free agents were major contributors last year, and some have been genuine stars in Houston.
Some players, though, will need to be let go, either for salary cap reasons or simply because the player is not worth re-signing.
The Texans have plenty of room to maneuver, so they should be able to retain their most valued free agents.
The following numbers are estimates of what each Texans' free agent could be worth.
CB Jason Allen: $2.5 Million
Allen is a decent nickle corner, and similar caliber players generally make between $2-3 million. The Texans would like to have him back, but this is a high cost for a player of Allen's caliber.
S Dominique Barber: $700,000
Barber is more of a special teams player and a backup at this point in his career. He won't see the field much on defense for the Texans, so his value is at a minimum.
G Mike Brisiel: $3.5 Million
Brisiel is a starter on one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. That will command a solid salary. Similar caliber players make around $3 million, but teams might over-value Brisiel based on his contributions to Arian Foster's success.
DE Tim Bulman: $700,000
Bulman is solid depth at defensive end. He fits the Texans' 3-4 scheme nicely, but he isn't worth much more than the veteran minimum.
QB Jake Dehlomme: $3 Million
Dehlomme will be a back-up quarterback somewhere in 2012. Veteran back-ups generally command solid salaries, both for their role as a mentor to the starter and for their ability on the field.
MLB Tim Dobbins: $1.5 Million
Dobbins has been a solid contributor in his career, but he didn't do much for the Texans last year. Still, he has been a solid role player in the NFL, and his contract should reflect that.
TE Joel Dreessen: $2.5 Million
Dreessen likely has similar value to Todd Heap's value last year. Heap earned a two-year, $5.5 million deal, and Dreessen will likely earn something similar.
QB Jeff Garcia: $1.25 Million
Garcia is no longer considered a competent back-up. If he finds a job in 2012, which is a big if, it will be for a very small contract.
WR Bryant Johnson: $1 Million
Johnson is another player who teams will struggle to find a role for. He is not a competent wide receiver anymore, and he does not play special teams well, either. If Johnson gets a contract in 2012, it will be for a very small amount.
C Chris Myers: Update: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting via his Twitter that the Texans have signed center Chris Myers a four-year $25 million dollar deal with $14 million guaranteed.
K Neil Rackers
K Neil Rackers: $2 Million
Rackers is one of the better kickers in the NFL, and he will paid as such. A comparable contract could be the Cardinals' Jay Feeley, who has a two-year, $3.5 million deal.
G Kasey Studdard: $1 Million
Studdard hasn't started a game since 2009. He is a decent backup and will be paid as such.
P Matt Turk: $1 Million
Turk was one of the worst punters in the NFL last year, barely averaging over 40 yards per kick. If Turk finds a job in 2012, it will be for very little money.
RB Derrick Ward: $800,000
Ward is no longer a highly regarded back. If he finds a job in 2012, it will be at the veteran minimum.
OLB Mario Williams: $15 Million
Now we're talking about big money. Williams will command a massive contract in free agency. A comparable contract would be the one Julius Peppers signed with the Bears for six years, $84 million.
Elite talents like Williams are rarely available in free agency. Williams will earn the biggest deal in free agency this year.
March 15, 2012:
Update: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports via his Twitter that Mario Williams will be given a six-year deal from the Bills. He reports that the contract is worth up to $100 million dollars with $50 million guaranteed.
S Quintin Demps: $1.26 Million (Base Tender, Estimated)
The Texans like Demps, as he provides quality depth and solid special teams ability. They will likely tender him at the lowest possible tender, which is $1.26 million.
RB Arian Foster: Update: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports the Texans have agreed on a 5 year, $43.5 million dollar contract for Arian Foster with $20.75 million dollars guaranteed.