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Connor Barwin (OLB)
Last offseason, there was nearly a panic over Barwin's contract status. Many believed that he should have been extended immediately, for his pass-rushing skills were extremely valuable to the team.
Others believed that he should have been extended in order for the team to save money, for if Barwin posted another great season, his value on the free-agent market would skyrocket.
Now, however, it appears that the Texans made the right choice on holding out on Barwin's contract. Barwin struggled this season, and while he was solid against the run, his sack numbers plummeted.
Hopefully, that means the Texans will be able to re-sign Barwin for a much lower price. If not, though, they must be fully prepared to let him go, considering their salary-cap concerns.
Glover Quin (S)
Quin is, by far, one of the most important members of the Texans' defensive unit. He is, also, probably one of the most undervalued ones as well. He is solid in coverage, but his true skills are put on display when he defends against the run.
Quin acts as a nearly a part-time linebacker for the defense, and he is instrumental in halting opposing team's running games.
He fills up possible holes that opposing running backs could run through, and he often limits opposing backs to very short gains on the ground. Quin is key to the Texans' defensive success, and he must be re-signed at all costs.
Brice McCain (Slot CB)
Right now, we are learning just how valuable McCain is to the Texans defense. With McCain currently on the IR, the Texans defense has struggled to limit opposing slot receivers, including Colts' receiver T.Y. Hilton, who torched the Texans for over 100 yards last week.
Brandon Harris, McCain's backup, certainly appears to have a bright future. However, he is simply too young to be expected to find consistent success. For the Texans to make a Super Bowl run next season, they may need the experience and consistency McCain brings as the team's starting slot cornerback.
James Casey (FB)
Casey is an offensive weapon on a team that does not have much weapons. He is always a threat to sneak out of the backfield and catch a first down for an offense that sometimes struggles to move the ball down the field. There is no reason not to re-sign him.
Donnie Jones (P)
Jones had an excellent year for the Texans, and in fact, it was his best season in his entire career. He consistently pinned opposing offenses deep inside the 20, and he was able to punt the ball into the opponent's territory when the offense's drives would stall deep in its own territory.
Tim Dobbins (ILB)
If nothing else, Tim Dobbins proved to be a valuable backup this season for the Texans. While his coverage skills are lacking, Dobbins is a stout run defender, perhaps the second-best one on the team behind Brian Cushing. Dobbins played an important role in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and he should be brought back at a cheap price.
With Ben Tate sitting on the bench for the majority of the season with various injuries, Forsett was forced to step up. And step up he did. Forsett was a perfect match with the Texans' zone-blocking scheme, and he was excellent at using his vision and speed to locate and hit the correct holes.
Forsett is a valuable third-string running back, and the Texans have no reason to let him go.
During the offseason, Butler was locked in a tight battle with Derek Newton for the team's starting right tackle position. When Newton eventually won the job, Butler was expected to take on a primary backup role, due to his talent and experience. Butler, however, suffered a season-ending injury and was placed on the IR.
The Texans had depleted depth on the offensive line throughout the entirety of this season, and Butler should be brought back at a low price to bolster the depth.