1. Wide receiver: With starters Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter turning 31 before the regular season, they're looking for a fast, talented wideout to be developed. They prefer a larger receiver like Johnson and Walter, both of whom are 6-3. Jacoby Jones, the third receiver, is 6-2.
2. Outside linebacker: With Connor Barwin (11.5 sacks) and Brooks Reed (9.5, counting playoffs), the starting positions are solid. But they still need a replacement for Mario Williams. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips says a 3-4 scheme never has enough outside linebackers. They'll draft Williams' replacement in one of the first two rounds.
3. Center/guard: Pro Bowl center Chris Myers re-signed, but they lost right guard Mike Brisiel. They need an injection of talent and youth in the interior offensive line. Expect them to fill the need in the third round. If they can find a prospect that can play center and guard, he'll be even more valuable.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--SS Dominique Barber can back up at both safety positions, but he has a problem staying healthy. He was on injured reserve last season and may not be brought back.
--DE Tim Bulman is a workout warrior who players and coaches love. He plays hard, never complains and always does a solid job. They'd like to have him back at the minimum.
--QB Jeff Garcia played the same role as jake Delhomme. He helped develop T.J. Yates. He won't be brought back.
--WR Bryant Johnson was signed in preseason to provide depth. He had only six catches and one touchdown and won't be brought back.
--PK Neil Rackers set a team record with 135 points, including 32-of-38 field goals, in his second season. They want to re-sign him, but he might be too expensive.
--OG Kasey Studdard is a former starter who spent the season on injured reserve. He'll have to accept the minimum if he wants to return.
--P Matt Turk signed during the season when rookie Brett Hartmann suffered a season-ending knee injury. Turk averaged 42.7 yards when pressed into emergency duty but isn't expected to be back unless they lose Hartmann or another punter again.
--RB Derrick Ward is a tremendous leader in the dressing room who has been invaluable in the development of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The coaches would love to have him back, but it will have to be near the minimum.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--S Quintin Demps: Not tendered as RFA; $700,000/1 yr.
--RB Arian Foster: Potential RFA; $43.5M/5 yrs, $12.5M SB/$10.25M base guarantees '12-'13.
--C Chris Myers: UFA; $25M/4 yrs, $8M SB/$14M guaranteed.
--LS Jon Weeks: Potential ERFA; $2.9M/4 years, $255,000 guaranteed.
--LB Bradie James: UFA Cowboys; terms unknown.
--P Donnie Jones: UFA Rams; $890,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
--CB Jason Allen: UFA Bengals $8.2M/2 yrs.
--OG Mike Brisiel: UFA Raiders; $20M/5 yrs.
--TE Joel Dreessen: UFA Broncos; $8.5M/3 yrs.
--QB Matt Leinart (released/failed physical).
--LB DeMeco Ryans (traded Eagles).
--FB Lawrence Vickers (released).
--LB Mario Williams: UFA Bills: $96M/6 yrs, $19M SB/$5.9M base guarantee 2012/$8M OB 2013/$6M base guaranteed injury 2013, becomes fully guaranteed second day of league year/$10.6M RB 2014 guaranteed injury/$24.9M guaranteed.
--OT Eric Winston (released/failed physical, ankle).
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