Since the Texans don't negotiate with players in season, the clock is ticking if they hope to lock up one of their prized assets whose contract expires at the end of 2012. Though QB Matt Schaub falls under that category, we hear OLT Duane Brown and OLB Connor Barwin, both coming off career years in which they started 16 games, head the list. Of the pair, Brown is the deal they want to get done first. After struggling to fill the position throughout the franchise's 11 years, the Texans understand Brown has become one of the league's best at a premium position. The hope is that Barwin, who the Texans think potentially can become a 15-20-sack player, also will remain in Houston long term, but they have more options at outside 'backer, including first-rounder Whitney Mercilus, than they do at left tackle. One source explained Brown's value to the Texans saying, "they won't use the franchise tag next offseason until Brown is locked up."