Last year, the Texans entered the offseason $20 million over the $120.6 million salary cap. After releasing some players and restructuring a few contracts, they were $4.7 million under the cap by the deadline that signaled the start of free agency.

This year, the Texans are $7.6 million under a cap that will be $123 million at the start of free agency on March 12.

Monday is the deadline for teams to designate franchise players. The Texans haven’t used the franchise tag on a player since cornerback Dunta Robinson in 2009.

The Texans are hoping to re-sign players like free safety Glover Quin, outside linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerback Brice McCain and fullback James Casey, among others.

General manager Rick Smith and vice president of football administration Chris Olsen are at the front of all negotiations.

Expect a lot of movement as free agency approaches.

The reason the Texans aren’t using the franchise tag on a player like Quin is because he would get $6.9 million this year, which would use almost all of their current cap. Tagging Barwin would cost $9.6 million.

The Texans are hoping to sign Quin and Barwin to long-term deals that would reduce their cap figures to less than what their franchise designations would be.

They also hope to sign players like inside linebacker Brian Cushing and defensive end Antonio Smith to extensions. Both are in the last year of their contracts.