Laremy Tunsil

Texans Restructure Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks Contracts

The Texans have restructured Laremy Tunsil‘s top-market tackle contract, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes. This will create $10.1MM in cap space for the rebuilding team.

Tunsil’s 2021 base salary will drop to $990K, with the funds being transferred to a $15.1MM signing bonus, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The highly paid left tackle’s deal still runs through the 2023 season.

Despite being in clear rebuilding mode, with Deshaun Watson‘s murky status with the team making the stage of that rebuild somewhat uncertain, the Texans have been active in free agency and on the trade market. They traded for Shaq Lawson and Marcus Cannon and signed the likes of Phillip Lindsay, Tyrod Taylor, Jordan Jenkins, Desmond King and others. Tunsil’s restructure helped; so did a recent Brandin Cooks move.

The Texans’ Cooks restructure created $6MM in cap space, with ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop noting the deal does adjust the duration of Cooks’ contract. Cooks’ five-year, $80MM Rams extension ran through the 2023 season. His recent restructure voided one of those years, putting the 27-year-old wideout under contract through 2022.

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COVID-19 Latest: Browns, Texans, Panthers

The Browns have closed their facility and delayed their flight to New Jersey because of a positive COVID-19 test. They are performing contract tracing ahead of their scheduled noon CT Sunday game against the Jets. While the Browns placed Jedrick Wills on their reserve/COVID-19 list, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports the rookie left tackle did not test positive for the coronavirus. He and practice squad wideout Ryan Switzer are close contacts. However, Wills is expected to be pulled off the Browns’ virus list in order to start Sunday, Cabot adds. Cleveland indeed activated Wills off its reserve/COVID list but placed linebacker B.J. Goodson on it ahead of Sunday’s game. Goodson tested positive, Cabot reports. The Browns are planning to depart Cleveland at some point tonight, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets.

Here is the latest from the NFL’s COVID-19 front:

  • Deshaun Watson‘s restaurant opening has caused an issue for the Texans. Watson and other Houston players were photographed maskless at the recent indoor event, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Watson received a $7.5K fine. The Texans levied fines against some of his teammates as well, with ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop noting Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks and Tytus Howard were among those at the event.
  • Whitney Mercilus now resides on the Texans’ reserve/COVID-19 list, and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reports he tested positive for the virus (Twitter link). This is Mercilus’ second time on the COVID list; he landed there in November as a close contact of then-COVID-positive linebacker Jacob Martin. This will end Mercilus’ season — his ninth with the Texans. Thanks to his December 2019 extension, Mercilus is signed through the 2023 season.
  • The Panthersdustup with COVID earlier this month produced a series of fines. The team handed out fines of at least $10K to players who broke virus protocols during the team’s bye week earlier this month, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Wideouts D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel and Shaq Thompson, Derrick Brown and Greg Little were among those placed on the COVID list.
  • After the Broncos were forced to use practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback earlier this season, the NFL tweaked its protocol to help teams in the event similar trouble emerges. Players already receiving COVID testing will be permitted to make their debuts for new teams without having to take virus tests six days apart, Pelissero tweets. This would allow for a team to sign a player off another team’s practice squad late in the week and use him in a game in an emergency scenario.
  • Washington fined Dwayne Haskins $40K for breaking COVID protocols for the second time this season but did not suspend him.

Trade Notes: Harris, Texans, Geno, Browns

After trading Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings appear to be reopening the door to dealing their franchise player. Anthony Harris is again available, per Albert Breer of SI.com. The Vikings discussed at least one tag-and-trade deal involving the 2019 breakout player-turned-tag recipient this offseason but moved forward with Harris as a starter for the third season. The price was believed to be a Day 2 pick at that point. Harris has more than half of his $11.4MM tag salary due. Harris joins safety mate Harrison Smith, tight end Kyle Rudolph and left tackle Riley Reiff as available Viking veterans.

Here is more from the trade market, with five days to go until the deadline:

  • We have heard trade rumors surrounding the bulk of the Texans‘ receiving corps. The Packers, among others, inquired about Will Fuller; Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks have also come up in talks. The Texans are prepared to part with any of their wideouts — for the right offer, of course. Every Texan except Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard is available, Breer adds. Fuller and Kenny Stills are on expiring contracts; Cobb is signed through 2022; Cooks through ’23.
  • NFL INT leader Xavien Howard has surfaced as a name to watch ahead of the deadline. While the Dolphins have fielded calls on the fifth-year cornerback, they have not received a firm offer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The Dolphins also appear dead-set against dealing Howard, with Jackson adding that it would likely take multiple first-round picks (an unrealistic ask) for Miami to consider a deal. Howard is in the first season of a five-year, $75MM contract.
  • The Bengals traded all-time sack leader Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks, and teams are wondering if the franchise’s No. 2 all-time sacker (Geno Atkins) is available. Teams have contacted the Bengals on the 11th-year defensive tackle but have been told he is not being traded, Breer notes. Atkins is signed through 2022, and although he has voiced frustration about his role, the Bengals will hang onto the perennial Pro Bowler.
  • In the thick of the AFC playoff race at 5-2, the Browns may still be dangling Olivier Vernon. Although the veteran defensive end came off Cleveland’s trade block this summer, the Browns shopped him for a while. They may be doing so again, with Breer indicating the 30-year-old edge rusher is being viewed as available. However, the Browns would move to replace the veteran opposite Myles Garrett. They were in on the first Nkagoue sweepstakes in August but lost out to the Vikings. In the final year of his contract, Vernon does not have a sack this season.
  • Entering their Week 8 game, the Panthers may be straddling the buyer-seller line at 3-4. However, they are still in a rebuilding phase in Matt Rhule‘s first season. Any buyer’s deal Carolina makes would be for a player controllable beyond this season rather than a rental who could help the team secure a wild-card spot, Joe Person of The Athletic writes (subscription required).
  • Prior to signing Mohamed Sanu as injury insurance this year, the 49ers finished second to the Patriots for Sanu at last year’s deadline. The 49ers offered the Falcons a third-round pick for Sanu, Breer notes, but the Pats gave up a second-round pick. San Francisco’s subsequent Emmanuel Sanders addition ended up being more impactful, and Sanu is currently training for his next opportunity.

Contract Details: Tunsil, Texans, Fales, Jets

Details on a couple of recent NFL deals:

  • Laremy Tunsil‘s three-year, $66MM extension with the Texans has been officially processed, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The add-on starts in 2021 and takes him through the 2024 season. All together, it comes out to a $76.35MM arrangement with $40MM fully guaranteed and $50MM effectively guaranteed. The deal also calls for an escalation in cap hits, giving Houston more short-term flexibility – Tunsil is set to count for cap hits of $14.1MM, $19.4MM, $21.1MM, and $21.75MM in each of the next four seasons.
  • The Jets‘ one-year deal with quarterback David Fales is worth $910K – the veteran’s minimum – with just $100K guaranteed (Twitter link via Connor Hughes of The Athletic). It’s a low-cost deal that will allow the Jets to keep Fales on the 53-man roster if they wish, or drop him this summer without much of a cap penalty. For now, he’ll fight for a spot behind Sam Darnold, alongside fourth-round pick James Morgan.

AFC Notes: Tunsil, Dalton, Ross, Bengals

Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil recently landed a three-year, $66MM extension that easily made him the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman, and he did it without an agent. Tunsil negotiated the contract himself and he’s quite happy he did, writes Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Tunsil said he thinks he “started a trend by not having an agent doing my deal,” and that he “wanted to reset the market and become the highest-paid offensive linemen just so all the young players under me [know] that anything is possible.”

During the press call Tunsil revealed that he first started talking with the Texans back in February, and that he was insistent on signing a shorter-term deal so he could re-enter free agency again when he was still young. Tunsil is locked up through the 2023 season now, and he’ll still only be 29 when he hits free agency in the spring of 2024. This could become a growing trend in the league, and Tunsil said he spoke with Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, who also negotiated his own contract, during the process. “You just have to bet on yourself, and that’s what I did, and I got the deal done,” Tunsil declared. “I’m extremely proud of myself and the team. I’m still speechless, even though it was a couple of days ago they made the announcement. I’m still speechless.”

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The draft came and went, and the Bengals were unable to find any takers for Andy Dalton. They’ve been trying to trade their former starting quarterback for a while, and Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic thinks they will end up releasing him shortly after failing to unload him over the weekend. It looks like Cincy is about to finally give up on trading Dalton and the nearly $18MM he’s owed for 2020. We heard shortly before the draft that the Bengals hadn’t ruled out keeping him, but that was likely just a ploy to try to keep his trade value alive. The game of quarterback musical chairs has pretty much ended, and there aren’t many teams out there still looking for a veteran signal-caller. The Patriots have been rumored as an option, and it’ll be very interesting to see where Dalton ends up signing once he gets released. The Colts apparently sniffed around before opting to sign Philip Rivers.
  • Speaking of the Bengals, the draft also spelled bad news for receiver John Ross. Dehner writes that the selection of former Clemson receiver Tee Higgins at the top of the second-round “does pretty much confirm this will be Ross’ last year in Cincinnati.” The Bengals drafted Ross ninth overall in 2017, and his career got off to a very bumpy start. Injuries limited him to only three games and zero catches as a rookie, and he had only 210 yards in 2018. This past season he got off to a torrid start, racking up 270 yards and three touchdowns in the first two weeks of the season. He cooled off quickly after that though, and ended up missing another eight games due to injury. He finished with 506 yards in eight games, but the progress apparently still didn’t inspire much confidence within the organization. The Bengals will have to decide this week whether or not to pick up Ross’ fifth-year option for 2021, and Dehner makes it sound like that isn’t too likely.

Texans To Extend Laremy Tunsil

The Texans have reached an agreement on a three-year extension for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). It’s a monster number — $66MM — for the former first-round pick.

In addition to a $22MM salary, $57MM is guaranteed. The contract contains a $13MM signing bonus, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Tunsil will receive $40MM over the first two years of the deal, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

The numbers on Tunsil’s new money are, in a word, staggering. Tunsil confirmed earlier this month that he planned on becoming the NFL’s highest-paid offensive tackle, and he’s done so by a wide margin. Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson previously held that honor with an $18MM/year average, but Tunsil has now exceeded that figure by $4MM, a hefty increase.

This year, Tunsil will take home more than $27MM, with Wilson adding he will receive $16.85MM fully guaranteed in 2021. In 2022, $10MM of Tunsil’s $17.85MM base salary is guaranteed. His $18.5MM 2023 salary is non-guaranteed.

Tunsil’s $57MM in guarantees almost surely refers to injury guarantees, not full guarantees. The Raiders’ Trent Brown currently leads all offensive linemen $36.25MM in fully guaranteed money, so $57MM would represent an unprecedented jump. Johnson received $55.845MM in injury guarantees on his extension with Philadelphia, and Tunsil has now topped that as well.

Of course, Tunsil held all the leverage in talks with Houston and exerted that clout as best he could. The Texans made a stunning trade to acquire Tunsil last year, sending two first-round picks plus a second-rounder to Miami in order to land 25-year-old starter. Having made that move, there was simply no way Houston could allow Tunsil to leave via free agency, so the club had to give him a massive extension.

Tunsil, the 13th overall selection in the 2016 draft, had one year and $10.35MM remaining on his contract. While the Texans could have theoretically franchised him in both 2021 and 2022, Tunsil could have sat out or refused to sign the tag. The optics of such a maneuver wouldn’t have been great for Houston. Instead, a three-year extension will lock up Tunsil through the 2023 campaign.

In spite of his new annual salary, Tunsil remains a good — not great — left tackle. While he’s been a full-time starter in each of his four NFL seasons, he’s never made an All-Pro team and was given a Pro Bowl nod just once (2019). Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, graded Tunsil just outside the top-20 tackles in each of the past two years.

Tunsil, who fired his agent in March, negotiated this deal directly with Texans head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien, tweets Wilson. Tunsil received input from outside advisors, but he clearly did very well for himself in working out a new contract.

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Latest On Laremy Tunsil

Appearing on NFL Live earlier today, Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil unsurprisingly confirmed that’s aiming to become the NFL’s top-paid offensive lineman if and when he reaches a long-term deal with Houston.

“I’m not going to talk numbers, as I’m going to keep that between me and the club,” Tunsil said, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. “I am looking to be the highest-paid lineman, of course. I worked my butt off to be in that position and hopefully we can make that happen.”

Tunsil didn’t want to talk specific figures, but numbers have been reported. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle recently indicated the Texans are willing to make Tunsil the league’s highest-paid lineman and have offered an annual salary of $18.5MM, $500K more per year than the Eagles’ Lane Johnson collects.

Tunsil is reportedly looking to top $18.5MM annually, but it’s unclear just how much more he’s searching for. A $20MM/year pact would represent a significant increase in the offensive tackle market, but given that Houston sacrificed two first-round picks and a second-rounder to land Tunsil from the Dolphins last offseason, the 25-year-old holds all the leverage in talks.

The 13th overall selection in the 2016 draft, Tunsil will earn $10.35MM in 2019, the final year of his rookie pact. The Texans could conceivably retain him through 2021 by deploying consecutive franchise tags, but an extension seems far more likely.

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Laremy Tunsil, Texans Exchange Offers

The Texans and Laremy Tunsil may be progressing on a deal. The sides had preliminary talks last month, and Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets they have exchanged contract proposals.

This does not appear to be a sign the sides are especially close on a new contract, though. No agreement is imminent, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle adds (via Twitter). But this pact will make Tunsil the NFL’s highest-paid tackle, per Wilson. The only question will be by how much does the former first-round pick separate himself from the field.

Houston has come in with an $18.5MM-per-year offer, Wilson tweets. Tunsil’s counteroffer is “significantly” higher, per Wilson. With Lane Johnson‘s $18MM-per-year pact leading all offensive linemen, the Texans’ first proposal is notable. With $18.5MM AAV being the team’s starting point, this could be a monster deal Tunsil.

Tunsil has been extension-eligible since January 2019, but his outlook changed once the Texans gave up two-first-round picks and change for him last summer. The Texans trading away DeAndre Hopkins also cleared a high-salary slot on Houston’s payroll.

The former Dolphins draft pick is expected to push for a $20MM-per-year accord. Tunsil going for a deal north of $20MM annually makes sense given where the cap could go in the near future under the new CBA. Anthony Castonzo‘s new Colts deal averages $16.5MM annually, but with Tunsil only going into his age-26 season and having seen the Texans give up major assets for him, his deal will almost certainly come in much higher.

Tunsil made his first Pro Bowl last season. While his resume does not profile as a player who would warrant a contract well north of the tackle market, the Ole Miss product was once in contention to become 2016’s No. 1 overall pick. And the Texans’ 2019 trade package sent to the Dolphins for him increased his leverage in extension talks, just as the Rams’ haul sent to the Jaguars will when Jalen Ramsey negotiations begin.

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Texans’ Laremy Tunsil Undergoes Surgery, Fires Agent

Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil is looking for a new contract, and he’s also recovering from a significant injury. Tunsil recently underwent shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, sources told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

We heard last week that Tunsil and the Texans had begun preliminary talks on an extension at the combine, and that he was seeking around $20MM annually. Sources also told Wilson that Tunsil fired his agents at CAA, and is now weighing his options. He’s apparently considering operating as his own agent like fellow left tackle Russell Okung has, and also is considering signing with the NFL division of NBA super-agent Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports.

The meeting at the combine came with CAA people before Tunsil fired his agents Wilson reports, so it sounds like things are back to square one. If Tunsil gets what he’s seeking, he’ll become the league’s highest-paid offensive linemen. He made the Pro Bowl last year, and the Texans want him blocking Deshaun Watson‘s blind side for the foreseeable future. Wilson notes that he’s expected to be ready to return to action by training camp, although he’ll presumably miss a good chunk of the offseason program.

Houston gave up a huge bounty to land Tunsil in a trade with the Dolphins last year, so they are going to be under a ton of pressure to get a deal done. They gave up two first-round picks and a second-rounder for the Ole Miss product, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal.

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Laremy Tunsil Shooting For $20MM AAV?

After sending the Dolphins two first-round picks and change in last summer’s Laremy Tunsil-centered swap, the Texans are prepared to negotiate with their prized left tackle. These talks will be interesting.

Tunsil and the Texans have engaged in preliminary talks and met with the fifth-year blocker’s agent at the Combine, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. While the sides are not deep in negotiations yet, the recent trade acquisition is expected to set an eye-opening price point.

Tunsil is expected to pursue a deal that pays him between $19-$20MM per year, Wilson adds. That would eclipse Lane Johnson‘s recent offensive line-record $18MM-AAV pact. Although Tunsil is not as accomplished as Philadelphia’s top tackle, the Texans sending two first-rounders for him — and the salary cap potentially set to vault into previously unforeseen territory in the near future –support Tunsil shooting for this price range.

Johnson represents the only offensive lineman earning more than $16.5MM per year presently. Tunsil joining him should be anticipated, however. The 25-year-old tackle is attached to a $10.3MM fifth-year option in 2020. The Texans would have the option of a franchise tag in 2021, but as more information about future salary caps comes out, Tunsil’s price may continue to rise.

The Texans received a Pro Bowl season from Tunsil in 2019; the ex-Ole Miss standout became the first Texans Pro Bowl offensive lineman since Duane Brown in 2014. Houston dealt Brown in 2017 and experienced considerable trouble replacing him over the next 1 1/2 seasons, with Deshaun Watson taking a 2010s-high 62 sacks in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded Tunsil as its No. 21 overall tackle but slotted him third overall in pass protection.

Houston enters the offseason with $61MM-plus in cap space and has some key needs on defense, but this will be a centerpiece priority for the team — one that will not have the luxury of upgrading too much in this year’s draft. The Texans traded four first-, second- or third-round 2020 picks last year, placing a premium on how they handle veteran contracts this year.

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