--The first priority is to re-sign outside linebacker Mario Williams, who had five sacks in five games at his new outside linebacker position before suffering a torn pectoral muscle. He made $18 million this season.
"Anybody who knows anything about our team knows how significant Mario's contribution has been," general manager Rick Smith said. "We would love to have him back. It goes without saying he's one of our best players. We've got some constraints with the salary cap, so we've got some challenges."
--RB Arian Foster, who was voted to a second Pro Bowl and rushed for 285 yards in two playoffs games, will be a restricted free agent. The Texans hope to sign him to a long-term contract. He had to withdraw from the Pro Bowl because of a foot injury he suffered in the divisional loss at Baltimore.
--The Texans spent $20 million more than the $120 million cap. They won't have much room to re-sign their players. The most important unrestricted free agents to re-sign are outside linebacker Mario Williams, center Chris Myers, right guard Mike Brisiel, tight end Joel Dreessen and kicker Neil Rackers.
--QB Matt Schaub has attacked his rehab after undergoing surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his right foot.
"I'll be ready in OTAs and doing stuff then," he said. "It's a process with the foot with all the wait and all the stuff you've got to do moving around side to side, laterally, but it will be fine. I'm not worried about the rehab process. We're going to just jump right in and continue to progress as I have already."
There's no telling how well the Texans would have done if Schaub had not been hurt. They were 7-3 with a four-game winning streak when he was injured.
"It's tough because I know what we're capable of, and to not reach those goals or that potential is hard," Schaub said. "But we have the right pieces here, and we're going to be right in this position for many years."
--Veteran quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Jeff Garcia won't return. They were signed during the season to help rookie T.J. Yates, who was forced into action when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart suffered season-ending injuries.
"We were in a horrible situation and trying to figure out where we'd go," coach Gary Kubiak said. "The most important thing we wanted to do was to find a couple of guys that could support T.J. and could help us in a tough situation. And they came in and did that.
"They were great in the locker room, great with the young man. They both worked extremely hard many, many hours to try to catch up with us in case they were put in a position to play. I just appreciate what they did. Neither one of them needed to come here from that standpoint, but they did it for us, and I appreciate it."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I had a blast. This organization is a lot of fun to play for. There's a lot of great players. The owner, the GM, everyone around here is phenomenal, great to work with. This is what I dreamed about. This is what I worked toward, so I wouldn't say I'm surprised by it, but I'm very pleased with it." -- DE J.J. Watt, when asked to summarize his rookie season in which he had 3 1/2 sacks, an interception return for a touchdown and 14 tackles in two playoff games.
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