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Did The Texans Overpay For This Talented Three-Time Pro Bowler?

The Houston Texans have agreed to a contract extension with their pro bowl left tackle, Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil is now the highest-paid player at his position in NFL history, after signing a three-year, $75 million deal with up to $60 million in total guarantees. Was this a well-calculated move or an overpay for the rebuilding Texans?

Commanding The Trenches For The Texans

From the moment he joined the Texans, the odds were stacked against Laremy Tunsil and he was deemed overrated. This resulted from the notoriously lopsided trade former Texans’ GM Bill O’Brien made for the star left tackle in 2019, as he sent a package that included two first-round picks to the Dolphins. Although the remedy for a position of need at the time, parting with multiple first-round picks for Tunsil was categorized as a reckless move by O’Brien that jeopardized the franchise’s future. Worst of all, the critics have seemingly been proven right as Houston’s team has fallen apart since the trade, while Miami used those draft picks to build a young nucleus of superstars.

However, despite the scrutiny, Tunsil has attempted to prove his worth in every way possible since joining the Texans. Over the last four seasons, he has developed into one of, if not the best left tackle in football, earning three pro bowl selections. He has protected the blindside of a plethora of quarterbacks from superstar Deshaun Watson to inexperienced Davis Mills, rarely letting up sacks or even pressures. In fact, 2022 may have been his best season yet. On 676 pass-blocking snaps, Tunsil allowed just one sack, and three QB hits and finished as PFF’s highest-graded pass blocker (91.7).

Perhaps most important, the captain of the trenches in Houston has also been an outstanding leader and teammate. He has contributed immensely to the development of fellow tackle Tytus Howard who was a 2019 first-round draft pick. Together the duo allowed just a sack each last season, and they have created one of the most formidable offensive linemen pairings in the NFL. Additionally, Tunsil has never been a source of complaints or drama in response to the Texans’ lack of team success and instead uses his influence to motivate other players. So, while they almost certainly overpaid for him in 2019, the stellar player and teammate Tunsil has turned into has also made him a franchise cornerstone for the Texans.

Did The Texans Waste Their Money?

Tunsil proved his value, but the Texans and GM Nick Caserio still entered this offseason unsure of what to do with him. A veteran, superstar player, demanding a ton of money was not seen by all as the best fit for a team in the midst of a rebuild like the struggling Texans. After all, Houston does not even have a franchise quarterback for Tunsil to protect on their roster, and a lack of other weapons means their offense is likely a few years away from even being in the top half of the league.

To many, the solution would have been to trade Tunsil and use the extra money and draft picks gained to improve other areas of the roster. In short, spend resources to get several adequate players instead of investing it all into one superstar. It seems as though Caserio may have even listened to this majority opinion, as rumors of a Tunsil trade to the Chiefs began to swirl. Nonetheless, the Caserio and the Texans appear to have resolved to keep the best player on their offense around for at least another three years, giving him a record-breaking new contract.

While those outside of Houston may disagree, any logical Texans fan knows this was not an overpay. To reiterate what was previously stated, Tunsil has turned into one of the premier left tackles in the game, the second most important offensive position to the quarterback, and one just as hard to come by. If the rookie QB Houston is likely to select in April wants to have any chance of success, he is going to need protection, and Tunsil is the best in the business at providing it.

Even more indispensable are the 28-year-old’s aforementioned qualities as a teammate and leader, which will be key to seeing through the culture change taking place for the Texans. With no one rooting for him at first, Tunsil gave nothing but his best from the day he stepped into the building and earned the hearts of every fan in the city. Now, he’s earned the cash too. Enjoy it LT!

 
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