Veteran tailback Ron Dayne, who re-energized his slumping career with the Houston Texans in 2006, has reached agreement to return to the team after exploring options with other clubs during the first two weeks of the free agent signing period.
Dayne, 29, rushed for 612 yards and five touchdowns with the Texans in 2006. The rushing yards represented more than Dayne had amassed in the previous three seasons combined and were his most since 2001. In the previous four seasons, he averaged just 219.3 rushing yards.
The Texans signed Dayne late last summer, after he was released by Denver. They needed him to help fill the void created by the absence of starting tailback Domanick Davis (who has since changed his name to Domanick Williams), who was sidelined by a knee injury, and Dayne responded nicely, starting six games.
This year, however, Dayne will go to training camp as a role player. Houston signed former Green Bay star Ahman Green as an unrestricted free agent two weeks ago, and he is the acknowledged starter. Still, if Dayne can maintain the career momentum that he generated in 2006, he should be a solid complement to Green.
Houston head coach Gary Kubiak is familiar with Dayne from their stint together in Denver, and seems to know how to get the best out of him.
The decision by Dayne to re-sign with the Texans came after he visited earlier this week with Philadelphia Eagles officials. The opportunity in Philadelphia closed on him when the Eagles decided to re-sign Correll Buckhalter as the backup to Brian Westbrook, and so Dayne opted to return to Houston for at least another year.
Details of the contract he will sign there were not yet available.
The former University of Wisconsin star, and Heisman Trophy winner in 1999, was the first-round pick of the New York Giants in the 2000 draft. He started 11 games in his first two seasons with the Giants, and he averaged 730 rushing yards in 2000-2001, but then suffered through four straight unproductive seasons. He left the Giants after the 2004 season and signed with the Broncos in 2005.
For his career, Dayne has rushed for 2,949 yards and 22 touchdowns on 789 carries. Dayne has appeared in 83 games, 20 as a starter.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.