Daniels returning to Texans

HOUSTON [SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

The Texans retained a right of first refusal on Daniels by offering him the highest-level tender. If Daniels had signed with another franchise this spring and Houston declined to match the offer sheet, the Texans would have received first- and third-round draft picks as compensation.

The deadline for restricted free agents to sign an offer sheet with a new team was nearly two months ago. Once that deadline passed, the Texans had exclusive negotiating rights to the young tight end.

If Daniels and the team do not agree to an extension, the former Wisconsin star could become an unrestricted free agent next spring, but only if there is an extension to the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players. Absent a labor agreement, 2010 will be an uncapped season, and Daniels will once again be eligible only for restricted free agency.

Had Daniels not signed the one-year tender, the Texans could have reduced their offer on Monday. A fourth-round choice in the 2004 draft, Daniels has emerged as one of the NFL's top receiving tight ends. Daniels, 26, has improved both his performance and his statistics every season of his NFL career. In 2008, he had 70 receptions for 862 yards and two touchdowns. The receptions, yardage, and average yards per catch (12.3 yards) were all career highs.

Daniels also started all 16 games for the second season row. For his career, he has 167 catches for 1,982 yards and 10 touchdowns. Daniels has started in 44 of his 46 regular-season appearances.

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