The Houston Texans have released veteran tight end Owen Daniels ahead of the start of free agency on Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain via Twitter:
Texans released TE Owen Daniels.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 11, 2014
The 31-year-old had been struggling to stay healthy in recent years, and the move was clearly motivated by cap savings, per McClain:
The Texans saved $4.5 million on the cap by releasing Daniels.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 11, 2014
Daniels spent the past eight seasons with the Texans since being selected by the franchise in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft. As McClain points out, the release must mean that the Texans have a plan in place for their starting tight end spot in 2014:
Owen Daniels had been with the team since 2006 when he was a fourth-round pick. This means they must be re-signing TE Garrett Graham.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 11, 2014
2014 would have been the final year of Daniels' four-year, $21 million deal with Houston.
Although the decision signals the end of an era in Houston, it's clearly a wise choice for a team looking to free up cap space and retool following a disastrous 2-14 campaign in 2013.
There's no doubt that Daniels is one of the league's top tight ends when healthy, but a fractured fibula cut his 2013 season short and he hasn't played all 16 regular-season games since 2008. Not to mention he's only getting older.
Daniels was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in October and described the unique injury, per ESPN.com:
Where the injury location is it's very risky to do surgery. Major nerves and a lot of stuff going on. If it's not displaced they just let it heal up. No need for a cast; it's not a weight-bearing bone. I'm not on crutches, I'm walking around. It's a little bone, a non-weight-bearing one.
Daniels missed Houston's final 11 games in 2013.
Daniels will face some serious question marks about his health and durability moving forward as a result of his injury history. But if he can convince a team he's 100 percent, he certainly boasts the credentials to land on another NFL roster next fall.
With 100 regular-season games under his belt and 29 touchdowns to his name, the two-time Pro Bowler is sure to provide an ideal blend of leadership and production to a new team for the right price in 2014, even if it's in a reduced role.
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