Here’s the situation: Texans Pro Bowl TE Owen Daniels, four years into his career, is about to be tendered as a restricted free agent and, as a result, tethered to the Houston organization at a one-year, $3.168 million rate.
Horrible? No, it isn’t. But for one of the best young tight ends in the game, it delays his first crack at real free agency, while providing him with what he takes as a green light to take his sweet time in returning from the torn ACL that ended his 2009 season prematurely.
“I might not even do training camp,” Daniels told Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan of Sirius NFL Radio, in an implicit message that says he’s not happy about the prospects of losing out on a big payday.
And this is from a guy who’s hurt now. Daniels is one of 212 restricted free agents in their fourth and fifth years, who would be unrestricted in the old system.
That, you might’ve guessed, will lead to a whole lot of unhappy campers when teams get their off-season programs going. If you look at that List of 212, you’ll find that while different teams are in different situations (San Diego and Denver are loaded up with Year 4/5 guys), all 32 clubs have at least one starter in that spot.
So get ready for players to sit out their OTAs and their minicamps, and those with gumption and some financial leverage (being able to sustain the June slicing of tenders), like Daniels, probably won’t be keen on showing up on time in the summer, either, which could make for a record number of MINs (missing in negotiations) in August.
The good news for you guys? The Patriots’ list (Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski, Pierre Woods) is paltry compared to most of the others.