Despite a disappointing season featuring just 3.5 sacks, general manager Rick Smith has identified Barwin as one of his core players. There is mutual interest in securing a long-term contract, and the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday the two sides will meet face-to-face for the first time this offseason at the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend in Indianapolis.
"We obviously think it's important (to re-sign Barwin)," Smith told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport on Wednesday. "That's why we tried to sign him last year. And we'll continue to try to work towards that."
Reaching common ground will be tricky, however. Much like franchise-tag candidates Joe Flacco and Ryan Clady, Barwin gambled on himself by turning down a lucrative contract offer prior to the 2012 season. Unlike Flacco and Clady, Barwin failed to build on his value.
Up against the salary cap, the Texans will have a hard time meeting Barwin's demands in a market lacking talented young pass rushers. In fact, the Chronicle's Tania Ganguli would be surprised if Barwin doesn't test free agency.
If one of the teams in need of a pass rusher makes an offer based on the belief that Barwin can recapture his 2011 form, Smith will lose one of his core players.Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.