The new collective bargaining agreement may not include the restricted free agent tenders, but the Texans have done their homework and have slapped several players with tenders anyway.
The restricted free agent tenders limit young free agents from moving to a new team, as teams who sign those players are forced to fork over a draft pick in exchange for signing the player. The tender levels refer to both the draft pick that must be given up and the amount of money a player may make--the higher the draft pick that must be given up for a player, the more money he must be paid in restricted free agency.
The Texans made their moves today, according to The Houston Chronicle's John McClain, and the first order of business for Houston was to slap first round tenders on tight end Owen Daniels and backup quarterback Matt Leinart. There was some train of thought that Daniels would be let go in free agency due to the tight end surplus behind him, but it appears the Texans are still very serious about keeping him. The tendering of Leinart that high has to be a serious cause for concern for Dan Orlovsky, who should probably be renting instead of leasing right now.
Second round tenders were applied to wide receiver Jacoby Jones, guard Mike Brisiel, and defensive end-to-linebacker project Mark Anderson. Jones was one of the biggest drop machines in the NFL last year, and at 27, it's a little surprising to see the Texans value him as much as they do. Brisiel is a great run blocker, but injury prone and not terrific in pass protection, that was a pretty obvious tender. Anderson was signed in midseason after the Chicago Bears released him, and he had a strong showing for the Texans in the second half of the season.
Finally, backup tackle Rashad Butler was tendered at the original draft pick level, which means he will be worth a third-round pick on the open market. Butler started four games for Duane Brown during Brown's performance-enhancing drug suspension and did not look out of place in the slightest.
On the other hand, safety Bernard Pollard, linebacker Zac Diles, guard Kasey Studdard, and defensive end Tim Bulman were not tendered contracts at all. Regardless of the outcome of the new CBA, they will be unrestricted free agents when free agency starts again. Pollard apparently did not fit the mold that Wade Phillips and company wants to see on defense, but it's still a little surprising to watch a team shed both of it's safeties. Studdard was abysmal in 2009 and spent most of this season on the sidelines as a game-day inactive. The Texans wish Diles had been a game-day inactive last season. Bulman was hurt in training camp and placed on IR before the season started.
While these aren't 100% positive to hold up, depending on the rules in a new CBA, they are pretty clear indications of how the Texans value their players, and it's pretty interesting that they'd just cut Pollard loose and retain Leinart, Daniels, and Jones at such high levels despite the offense performing just fine without them.