While he still holds out hope that the team will sign him to a long-term extension, Owen Daniels decided to sign the one year tender offered to him by the Texans earlier this summer. Presently OD is set to make $2.792 million for the 2009 season but that number could increase significantly in the next few weeks as the team tries to lock up their Pro Bowl tight end.
Although he signed his tender yesterday Daniels remained MIA for the Texans mandatory mini camp Monday morning. Because he is now under contract Daniels will probably be fined. Had he waited until after today to sign Daniels could have avoided a fine. However, the team had an option beginning Monday that would have allowed them to rescind the offer.
Daniels is certainly making a statement with his absence that despite the fact that he signed the team’s tender he still very much desires to get a contract suitable to what he feels he’s worth. OD had a breakout season in 2008 in which he caught 70 balls for 862 yards and 2 touchdowns while converting 46 first downs. Daniels has become a valuable weapon for the Texans’ new high octane offense, one that the team should have every intention of retaining for the long haul.
It appears the Texans find themselves in a precarious situation. Dunta Robinson and Owen Daniels, two of their most high profile players, are the first two holdouts in team history. When the Texans were a 10+ loss per year team they rarely had any player who would give them the type of production that would give them close to the leverage necessary to hold out (successfully). As we’re seeing with Dunta and Owen, as well as Demeco Ryans, the Texans are running into the same problem that the good teams start to run into and that is that the production necessary to win football games reaches a point where it becomes too expensive to retain it.
We see it every offseason, teams needing to lower payrolls are forced to release veterans, in many cases quite valuable vets. The Texans are beginning to see the cost of having multiple players perform amongst the best in the league at various positions. Unless a player was a first round pick their second contract will almost certainly dwarf their first contract. That is why you hear that successful teams build through the draft and not through free agency. Luckily the Texans have had successful drafts recently, illustrated by the fact that so many players are starting to command lucrative sums of money to retain. We’re not quite their yet, but as the success of the team grows so will the turnover. We are going to have to get used to seeing the faces we have come to love wearing other uniforms in the future. You just can’t sign em all. Hopefully this years draft class will prove to be as fruitful as the past couple have been and we can cultivate more Pro Bowl caliber players. Although the team has every intention of extending their top free agents the harsh reality is that we are probably not going to see all three back in Steel Blue next year. As long as we can continue to develop our young and upcoming talent, the Brian Cushings and Duane Browns and Antwan Moldens and James Caseys of the team, we should be able to surround Schaub, Mario and company with enough talent to push this team into the realm we all desire: perennial playoff contender.