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The Houston Texans have emerged as one of the key organizations ahead of the trade deadline and are engaged in conversation with a number of teams about dealing veterans by next week, league sources said. As reported previously, owner Cal McNair has been advised by several confidants to try to acquire more draft picks and ease the team's future salary cap load if possible, which would benefit him in his search for a new general manager.

The Texans are devoid of draft assets and carrying several big contracts moving forward, limiting the flexibility of the next front office. Rival executives expect the Texans will trade at least one receiver by the deadline -- Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks are the most talked about at this point -- and are gauging the market for veteran pass rusher Whitney Mercilus.

Running back Duke Johnson and tight end Darren Fells have also drawn some interest, and teams that have been in contact with Houston believe there is a definite willingness to shed some payroll and reposition the franchise for the future if possible. Executive Jack Easterby, who is also helping with the general manager search, is in charge of the operation for now with former head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien fired earlier this month, and the Texans have been at the center of much trade chatter since McNair made that move.

While the likelihood of a blockbuster trade is minimal, there seems to be sufficient interest in enough players to facilitate a transaction or two by the deadline.