Let’s make a deal: Owen Daniels, A.J. Hawk, Pierre Thomas get new contracts

Owen Daniels

Thankfully, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to a 24-hour extension in the labor talks, temporarily preventing a lockout from officially occurring. While teams are not permitted to negotiate with free agents during that time span, they’re allowed to lock up their own players; and several teams took advantage of that fact.

While several players acquired new contracts today, there are three notable players to discuss. Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who was re-signed to a four-year, $22 million deal, Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, who signed a new five-year deal, and New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas, who agreed to a four-year, $12 million pact.

Daniels, one of the Texans’ most dynamic weapons on offense, spent much of last season recovering from a torn ACL, which significantly affected his production. Before the injury, Daniels was a Pro Bowler in 2008 and was among the leaders in receptions for the team. He’s not a prototypical tight end; much like the Chargers’ Antonio Gates, he’s a wide receiver stuck in a tight end’s body. He is talented enough to play in-line on running plays, but could also kick out to the slot and stretch the field that way. Houston did well with the contract and it looks like a fair deal for both sides.

Hawk was released by Green Bay yesterday, though afterward reports quickly surfaced that the team was intent on bringing him back. The Packers did not want to pay his $10 million escalator, though his new multi-year contract is expected to net him around $30-35 million, including $10 million in guarantees. It’s a good chunk of change the organization is handing over, but Hawk has proven his worth to the Super Bowl champs. As previously mentioned, Hawk was their leading tackler in 2010 and was stout at the point of attack. The linebacking corps for Green Bay could be their strongest and deepest position.

For the second time this week, the Saints have extended one of their own, though Thomas’ new contract is a bit of a head scratcher. He spent a good part of the 2010 season dealing with injuries, and it seemed like he wasn’t the team’s first choice at running back. Thomas was thrust into action when Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory also went down with ailments. Last offseason, it looked as if an extension was forthcoming, but it never materialized. Thomas finished the year with only 269 yards and two touchdowns, but he should be in line for a big rebound if he can stay healthy.

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).