By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Houston _ For safety Danieal Manning, the choice was simple when he became an unrestricted free agent last spring.
If he wasn’t going to re-sign with the Chicago Bears, where he spent the first four years of his career, the Corsicana native wanted to come home.
That put the Dallas Cowboys, the team he rooted for as a kid and one in desperate need of safety help, at the top of his wish list.
But after reaching out to the Cowboys through his agent Russell Hicks and getting no response likely because they deemed his asking was too high, Manning turned to option No. 2 _ the Houston Texans.
Clearly, it worked out for the best.
Not only was Manning given a four-year, $20 million contract, including $9 million in guarantees _ compared to the $5 million the Cowboys gave safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Abe Elam combined in 2011 _ but he joined a franchise that is clearly on the rise.
The Texans (11-6) won their first even AFC South Division title, their first ever postseason game last weekend with a 31-10 blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard playoffs and are playing at the Baltimore Ravens Sunday for a chance to reach the AFC title game for the first time in franchise history.
“We reached out to the (Cowboys),” Manning said. “(Being from Corsicana) that was one of the first teams I was thinking about going to in free agency. But everything worked out for the best. God knew exactly where I needed to be. I wanted to come home. I’m glad I got the opportunity.”