Tight end Owen Daniels is not a head-in-the-sand kind of player. He listens, he reads, he knows there's talk about whether or not he'll be back with the Houston Texans next season.
"I try not to [think about it]," Daniels said, affably as always. "Obviously it's going to be different but from my perspective, film doesn't lie. I've been doing this a long time. Had gotten off the a good start this year. I think I'm one of the leaders and one of the staples of this team. If they choose to keep me my last year of my contract, which I hope they do, that's great. I'd like to play here and only wear this uniform."
Daniels is right that he had a good start to the year, beginning with two touchdowns in the season opener. He had a non-displaced fibula fracture in Week 5 that kept him out the rest of the season. His backup Garrett Graham played well in the role as No. 1 tight end after Daniels' injury, but Graham's contract is finished in March.
Daniels has one more year on his contract at $4.5 million cash that comes with a $6.25 million cap hit.
The Texans injury situation at tight end has been as messy as many other positions.
Daniels and Graham both finished the season on injured reserve. Rookie Ryan Griffin, whom the Texans selected in the sixth round of April's draft, did great filling in as a pass-catcher as he worked to improve his blocking. By Sunday's game in Nashville, Griffin's backup was Phillip Supernaw, a player signed to the practice squad this month and brought up this week.
Before the injuries mounted at the position, the Texans led the NFL in two-tight end sets. They'll need two players who can handle prominent roles. Griffin's play this season proved he can be one of those guys. As with their running back situation, it would be difficult for the Texans to keep the players who began the 2013 season as their top two tight ends. Another team can afford to pay Graham like a starting tight end.
The highest paid tight end last season was Jared Cook, who got $7.02 million per year, but he was an outlier. Most of the 2013 tight end free agent signees made somewhere between $4 million and $5 million per year. The Texans would only save somewhere around $3.5 million in cap space if they released Daniels.
Daniels will be 31 at the start of the 2014 season and is still a very good player who could be a good influence on Griffin's development. With so many other positions needing work, it makes sense to keep Daniels for the final year of his deal and move forward with him, Griffin and perhaps a rookie.
"You always want to know what your future is holding," Daniels said. "The uncertainty is always weird. When you hear whispers of this and that, that's also kind of weird, too. Not knowing. So I'd like to know basically."