Dunta Robinson (Getty Images)
As the Houston Texans opened camp, the main story wasn’t the fantastic expectations set forth due to the infusion of talent that arrived this offseason. The main theme was money, and how the Texans stars want more of it.
Contracts and holding out are a part of the game of football, as it is clearly a business, but these are also things that can derail a season before it even begins. Cornerback Dunta Robinson, furious over being given the franchise tag (which pays him nearly $10 million this year) has decided to hold out during the start of camp and he has vowed to miss all of camp and part of the regular season.
“I think Dunta needs to be in camp, and that's my opinion,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “I think he needs to be here with his teammates and when he's coming in, that's a decision he's going to have to make."
One absent star is certainly something that the team can overcome, but there are more players who are unhappy with their deals including linebacker DeMeco Ryans and tight end Owen Daniels.
“We've gone beyond what's reasonable to try and get guys signed up,” Texans owner Bob McNair said. “Sometimes, they don't want to accept the offer, and that's their decision. But we've certainly reached out to them. They're great players and they're under contract and we're going to keep them here. So, it'll work out."
DeMeco Ryans has said that the team is sending a bad message by not getting their veteran stars signed. As for Owen Daniels, he was given the high tender for restricted free agents, and he’s disappointed that he and the Texans couldn’t agree to terms on a long-term extension.
"Well, I think I said the very first day we arrived back in April that I'd be pretty disappointed if a deal wasn't done before camp,” Daniels told reporters. “One isn't done, so I'm sticking by my word, what I said before."
Normally, contract issues pop up after a team has experienced some playoff success, but the Texans are yet to post their first winning season. Individual success hasn’t equated to team success and many are of the belief that the Texans can continue to not have a winning season with or without their unhappy stars.
With a loaded AFC South division that posted teams with 12 and 13 victories respectively, and a rebuilding team in Jacksonville, distractions and dissension will certainly not help the Texans compete in 2009.