The Houston Texans have extended the contract of star middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans through the 2015 season. The six-year deal is for $48 million and includes a total of $21.75 million in guaranteed money.
This deal comes off Ryans' second Pro Bowl season, his first being 2007, and keeps in place a dynamic and important piece of the ever improving Texan defense.
With the addition of first round linebacker Brian Cushing in last year's draft, Houston has formed a formidable, and young, defensive front seven that can only improve going into the 2010 season.
Ryans has established a reputation in the league as not only having great range on the field, but also playing with a physicality of someone who is 15 pounds heavier.
With this reputation, he was clearly the best restricted free agent linebacker on the market this past offseason, although with the first and third round tender placed on him, it was unlikely another team was going to sign him away.
Now that they have secured their defensive captain long-term, they can now look to other parts of the team to provide long-term stability.
General Manager Rick Smith will more than likely now focus his complete attention to tight end Owen Daniels. Before his injury in Buffalo last season, Daniels was on course to have an All-Pro year, possibly eclipsing 80 catches and 1000 yards.
Despite this, his contract situation has become one of the more difficult situations in the league. Both sides want to get a long-term deal done, although they seem to be a distance apart at the moment.
Daniels expects to be paid a contract reflecting his past seasons, which would place him amongst the highest paid at his position in the NFL, whereas the Texans want to cover themselves in case he does not come back from his injury as well as expected.
If this contract situation is not resolved soon, it has the potential to become a serious point of contention in the locker room, even though the Texans have given Daniels a token of good faith by working out a deal so he could rehab at the team's facility this offseason.
After the loss of cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Texans need to keep Daniels happy as they cannot afford to lose another key player down the road.
With the loss of Robinson to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, the Texans have locked in their first round draft strategy to focus on the defensive backfield, possibly Kyle Wilson from Boise State.
Whichever direction they look to go in at the draft, Texans fans should be smiling today as the future just got brighter now that DeMeco is sticking around long term.
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