With cap set, a look at Texans' free agency

With cap set, a look at Texans' free agency
March 1, 2014, 5:00 pm
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Texans top 10 cap numbers

Matt Schaub: $14,500,000
Andre Johnson: $12,144,583
Johnathan Joseph: $11,250,000
Arian Foster: $8,750,000
Duane Brown: $8,500,000
Chris Myers: $7,000,000
Owen Daniels: $6,250,000
Brian Cushing: $5,390,625
Danieal Manning: $5,506,125
J.J. Watt: $3,575,567

The Texans will have a little extra breathing room.

The NFL salary cap for the 2014 season is set at $133 million, up $10 million from 2013. And it's plenty more than the initial $126-$128 million projections.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the cap is expected to reach $140 million next year and $150 million by 2016. Those would be some big jumps.

So what does it mean for the Texans this season? Well, they'll have a little more room to work with.

The Texans will have a little over $1.1 million in carry-over from 2013. And they will have about $11 million in cap space, according to ESPN, when free agency starts on March 11. Negotiations may begin on March 8.

Don't get the wrong idea, the Texans aren't likely to be major spenders this offseason but the extra money does give them more comfort. (Remember: They will need to use some of that money to sign draft picks.)

But the Texans have some ways to give themselves more cap room.

The most talked about potential cut is Matt Schaub. He will have a cap number of $14.5 million in 2014. If they cut him, they'd save $4 million against the cap. Or, if they cut him with a post-June 1 designation, they'd save $11 million against the 2013 cap but would have a $7 million hit in 2015. If they do things that way, they'd have to carry his $14.5 million cap number until June 1.

There are other players like Johnathan Joseph ($11.25 million cap hit) and Danieal Manning ($5,506,125 cap hit) who might be possible cuts also.

Another one might be Owen Daniels, who has a cap hit of $6.25 million this year. If the Texans cut Daniels, they'd save $4.5 million in cap room.

But if the Texans do cut Daniels, they'd probably want to re-sign Garrett Graham, who will become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. A league source said there is a "good amount" of interest surrounding Graham, which makes sense because this year's tight end free agent class isn't very strong.

Another player the Texans are at least somewhat interested in bringing back is NT Earl Mitchell, even though he seems better suited for a 4-3 defense.

And Antonio Smith is a free agent too. He might cost too much money, more than the Texans would be willing to pay a 32-year-old but head coach Bill O'Brien has been complimentary of the veteran defensive end.

Other starters from 2013 who will be free agents include Wade Smith, Ben Tate and Joe Mays.

The Texans aren't expected to use their franchise tag this year but if they choose to, Monday is the deadline.