Mike Daniels realizes the day may eventually come when he's the eldest veteran in an NFL defensive line room.
He's just happy it wasn't this year.
Don't get the Green Bay Packers' fourth-year lineman wrong. He would've been fine carrying the torch in 2015, but nobody was more pleased to hear the news that Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji would be returning to Green Bay than Daniels.
"Those two guys, it's always good to have two other older guys who have been around, who have played a lot of football," Daniels said Monday during the start of the Packers' offseason program.
"What they bring to the weight room, practice, the locker room, that's something that money can't buy. So, I'm really happy I get to play with those guys again."
Guion, 27, was on the verge of making a lot of money this offseason. He registered career-highs in tackles (32) and sacks (3½) in place of an injured Raji, who tore his right biceps muscle in the Packers' third preseason game.
Instead of cashing in, however, Guion was arrested on Feb. 3 in Starke, Fla., on felony possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm in the presence of committing a felony. He reached a plea agreement last month that resulted in the charges being dismissed because he had no prior record.
Still, it affected Guion's marketability. He took a quick visit to Seattle, but returned to sign a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Packers that didn't include a signing bonus. More than half of the contract ($1.5 million) is paid out in per-game roster bonuses, a measure that protects the Packers if the NFL suspends Guion for either violating league's policy on personal conduct or substance abuse.
Guion returned to Green Bay soon after the arrest and the Packers monitored his situation. He worked out often with Daniels at team headquarters and owned up to his mistake with his teammate. Daniels didn't require an explanation.
"We completely understand that people make mistakes. Nobody is perfect," Daniels said. "When that happened, he was back up here working out and said, 'Hey, I made a mistake. I need to get back to work.' That's respectable.
"He signed his new contract and he was down here just a couple minutes after doing that -- back in the weight room working out. That's a guy who takes this seriously and he just made a mistake, and we're past that. It's time to get to work and he's been working."
Like Guion, Raji returned to the Packers on an incentive-laden deal. He received a $1.15 million base salary and $500,000 signing bonus with the rest of the contract based on playing time. Behind the scenes, he's told Daniels he's ready to prove himself again.
Raji turns 29 in July and it's been more than three seasons since his last sack, but the former first-round pick feels there's still time to revert the form he teased when he had 6½ sacks in 2010.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the NFL owners meeting last month in Phoenix that the defensive line had the potential to be the best he's had during his 10 years as coach. With Guion and Raji back, it seems like the defensive line has the necessary tools to live up to that billing.
"B.J. is hungry," Daniels said. "He was telling me the other day he feels like a young guy all over again and that's awesome. That's awesome. Like I said, I saw it in him last year. He was playing really well throughout camp and the preseason last year before he had that unfortunate injury. B.J. is ready to go. You can see it. He's rolling.
"That's just one of the many reasons I'm excited to have both of those guys back."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod