The rebuilding of the right side of the Texans’ offensive line has received plenty of attention this offseason. However, the likelihood that the Texans could make changes on the right side in 2013 has flown largely under the radar.
This offseason, Houston demonstrated how highly it values C Chris Myers, cutting ORT Eric Winston in part to free up the cap space to extend Myers, and OLT Duane Brown, who received an extension before OLB Connor Barwin and QB Matt Schaub. With the two core pieces of the line in place for the next several seasons, don’t be surprised if veteran ORT Rashad Butler and ORG Antoine Caldwell, both competing for starting jobs in 2012, are allowed to walk when their contracts expire after the season. Houston has younger reinforcements, OG Brandon Brooks and OT Derek Newton, waiting in the wings, and if their time to start isn’t now, it likely will be in 2013.
Of course, this is a byproduct of Houston's strong team building through the draft under GM Rick Smith and head coach Gary Kubiak. The club is as deep as it’s ever been, as witnessed by 2012 first-rounder Whitney Mercilus becoming the first first-round pick in franchise history not to start as a rookie.
As for Butler and Caldwell, their contract years couldn’t come at a better time, as they will have a chance to parlay strong showings into big dollars on the open market, similarly to ORG Mike Brisiel, who received a five-year, $20 million deal with the Raiders after a career year in '11.
FB-TE James Casey is another Texan who will have a golden opportunity to showcase his skills in a contract year this season. With TE Joel Dreessen now in Denver, Casey, who one source said could catch 80-90 balls in the right situation, will be used more as a receiver.