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The D-Rob dilemma

There are a lot of people wondering about the status of Dunta Robinson's contract negotiations with the Texans. The cornerback, who was the Texans' 10th overall pick in 2004, will become an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 27 if the team isn't able to sign him to a long-term extension.

General manager Rick Smith has said that re-signing Robinson is his highest priority this offseason, but that will mean paying him big-time corner money. Remember, Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble set the bar high. On November 28, 2008, the Panthers 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 looks like Smith won't be able to strike a deal with Robinson, the Texans could use the franchise tag on him. That will guarantee Robinson $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.

The Texans have until Feb. 19 to franchise a player. New England already has used its tag on Matt Cassel, whose $14.65 million salary is based on the top five quarterback contracts from last year. And it looks like Oakland's Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will be tagged for second consecutive year.

Other contract negotiations to watch around the league include: Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, Baltimore inside linebacker Ray Lewis, Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins and Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs.

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