D-Day is upon the owners and the NFLPA. By midnight tonight, we will know whether there has been an extension to the deadline, whether there's a deal done (unlikely), whether there is a union decertification and/or whether there is a lockout. It is very possible that today was the last day for general managers to re-sign potential free agents from their team. Rick Smith must have had a few million dollars burning a hole in his pocket because today he spent some money.
Smith was a busy man today. In a few hours he came to terms (in chronological order) with Owen Daniels, Derrick Ward and Shaun Cody. Before we get into what to think about the individual signings, the timing strikes me as odd. These deals must have been in the works for some time, so why wait until the last minute to get deals done? The only thing I can think of is that Bob McNair and/or Rick Smith are under the impression that something just shifted in the labor negotiation realm. I have no idea what they were assuming was going to happen before today, and what that might have changed to, but why tender a first round pick to what you're assuming is going to be a restricted free agent just to possibly overpay him less than 24 hours later? Where did the rush come from?
I'm getting ahead of myself. Follow the jump to see my take on the afternoon shopping spree.
Owen Daniels - In September or October this year, I would have told you that Daniels wasn't worth the money. His inability to stay healthy outweighed his worth, or at least I thought so at the time. When Daniels finally got healthy in 2010, however, the offense was noticeably different. I know that bfd put out some PFF numbers earlier that maybe don't support this, but the eye test of watching every Texans game told me that the offense, and more specifically, Matt Schaub, was better with OD in the lineup.
Having said all of that, Smith paid an oft-injured tight end a lot of money. Daniels will receive $22 million dollars over the course of four years, $14 million of which will come in the first two seasons, with a total of $6 million guaranteed. The deal might not be as lucrative as what he was in for prior to tearing his ACL in 2009, but it's still a lot to pay a player at a non-marquee position with a history of knee injuries (three, I believe, since high school).
Daniels is by no means perfect, but he might be perfect for the Texans' brand of the West Coast offense. Daniels has a rare ability to get vertical from the tight end position, and is usually Schaub's go-to target off of roll outs and bootlegs. It is certainly a risk to assume he will stay healthy, but if he does, I think Daniels will be worth the money. Also, I've heard that when the new CBA is finally approved, deals that were signed this year won't fully count against the cap because it happened in an uncapped year.
Derrick Ward - This signing isn't much of an event in my book. Ward was more than serviceable last year, although I think that was mostly due to great run blocking and defenses getting softened up by Arian Foster all game. If it's not broke, don't fix it. Ward won't be the second string back next year, assuming Ben Tate comes back healthy and is effective, but I don't see anything wrong with Ward as (what I assume is) a cheap insurance policy.
Shaun Cody - This signing bothers me. It tells me less about Wade Phillips' faith in Cody, and more about his faith in Earl Mitchell. Mitchell is clearly the more talented and better suited player to play nose tackle in Wade's 3-4 scheme. I'm assuming that means Cody is being kept as a backup, which obviously means that Mitchell is not the backup, which means that Lance Zierlein is wrong and the Texans' starting nose tackle for next season IS on the roster. The only way I see another nose tackle being added is through the draft for development. I believe this signing rules out the possibility of acquiring a free agent to fill this position.
What's even more frustrating is that pesky Shaun Rogers deal that was just signed. $4 million dollars over one year for a player that has been, at the very least, very good in this league at playing nose tackle, or $5.75 million dollars over two years (with $1.5 million guaranteed) for someone who has never even played in a 3-4?
How do you feel about the three signings? Weigh in via the Comments below.