Cutting running back Ahman Green and linebacker Morlon Greenwood on Tuesday gave the Texans valuable space under their salary cap.
The NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported on NFL.com that releasing Green saves the Texans $3.93 million against the 2009 salary cap, and releasing Greenwood saves an additional $4.87 million. Combined, the moves will save the Texans $8.8 million against the cap.
So what will the Texans do with their newly acquired financial wiggle room?
Well, the front office is focusing on re-signing Dunta Robinson, the Texans' 10th overall pick in 2004. Robinson considers himself an elite cornerback and wants to be paid like one.
Carolina's Chris Gamble set the bar high for cornerbacks. On Nov. 28, 2008, the Panthers reportedly signed Gamble to a six-year, $53-million contract with $23 million guaranteed, which made him one of the highest paid defensive backs in the league.
If it looks like the Texans won't be able to strike a deal with Robinson before free agency begins on Feb. 27, they could use the franchise tag on him before the league deadline Feb 19. The tag will guarantee Robinson close to $9.96 million for one season, if he signs the tender. The franchise salary of every position group is based on the top-five contracts from 2008 among other factors. The franchise tag also could buy the Texans some more time in negotiating a long-term deal for Robinson.
But general manager Rick Smith's work during free agency this offseason doesn't' stop with Robinson. Tight end Owen Daniels, who scored a touchdown in the Pro Bowl, is a restricted free agent, and the Texans have signaled they want to sign him to a long-term deal.
Plus, guard Chester Pitts, wide receiver Kevin Walter, quarterback Sage Rosenfels and linebacker DeMeco Ryans all have one year left on their contracts. The Texans may look to lock them into long-term deals.
"As we talk about free agency this year, we've got some players that we've got to get under contract," Smith said. "And that's what we're going to do and we're working hard at this point to try to get a deal with Dunta completed. I think that's going to be our focus, to get him done.
"Owen, in his case, he's a restricted free agent so it's not such an urgent issue as it is with Dunta. And that certainly is our priority."