Laremy Tunsil

Texans Rework OL Laremy Tunsil’s Contract

Laremy Tunsil is staying in Houston. The veteran offensive lineman has agreed to a restructured deal with the Texans, reports Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com.

The Texans converted Tunsil‘s base salary into a signing bonus, opening $8.4MM in cap space. The team also reduced the player’s cap number from $26.1MM to $17.7MM. The lineman’s $18.5MM salary for 2023 remains unchanged. Tunsil inked a three-year, $66MM extension with the Texans in 2020.

Tunsil had been mentioned as a trade candidate, and reports confirmed that the two-time Pro Bowler was on the block. That was partly due to Tunsil’s salary, but former first-round pick Tytus Howard showed promise when playing at tackle last season, making the veteran expendable.

Tunsil was traded from the Dolphins to Houston in 2019 for a pair of first-round picks. He earned Pro Bowl nods in each of his first two seasons with the organization, but he missed out in 2021 after he was limited to only five games thanks to a thumb injury.

 

Latest On Texans OL Tytus Howard, Team’s OL Plans

Texans offensive lineman Tytus Howard, a 2019 first-round pick, spent the first two years of his career almost exclusively at right tackle. In 2021, he was shifted inside to left guard, and he played 11 games there, but he also suited up for four games at left tackle due to an injury to starting LT Laremy Tunsil. As Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle writes, Howard’s role for the 2022 campaign remains unclear.

Per Pro Football Focus, Howard was much more effective at left tackle (73.75 pass-blocking grade) than left guard (47.7). However, former OC Tim Kelly and OL coach James Campen both praised Howard for his versatility and indicated he was improving as a guard, and new OL coach George Warhop concurs.

“I thought he did a nice job at guard,” Warhop said. “I mean, so to have that flexibility going into the season, to manage to get the five best on the field, I think that’s good for us.”

Assuming the Texans really do think Howard can be effective outside or on the interior, his versatility gives GM Nick Caserio a little more flexibility with his offseason strategies. Tunsil has been mentioned as a trade candidate, and Kubena confirms that the two-time Pro Bowler could be on the move, which would add more draft ammo to a stockpile that could become seriously impressive if Caserio is able to deal QB Deshaun Watson. Houston would then be able to slide Howard to LT — which was the intent when he was originally drafted — and would not necessarily have to use a high draft choice or FA dollars on an immediate Tunsil replacement.

On the other hand, as Kubena notes, Max Scharping and Justin McCray are the only interior linemen aside from Howard who started at least one game last year and who remain under contract through 2022. So depending on how the Texans’ offseason shakes out, the club may have no choice but to keep Howard at LG.

One way or another, Caserio will have to make a decision on Howard’s fifth-year option no later than May 2. If exercised, that option would lock in a $12.735MM fully-guaranteed salary for 2023, and while that sum would be more than reasonable for a starting-caliber LT, Howard’s small sample size at that position in the pros and his general lack of effectiveness at RT and LG seem to indicate that 2022 will serve as his contract year.

Texans LB Zach Cunningham On Trade Block

While the Deshaun Watson rumors have placed the Texans at the NFL’s trade forefront throughout this year, the rebuilding club has other pieces that could move ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline. Last season’s tackles leader is one of them.

The Texans have made Zach Cunningham available, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes (ESPN+ link). Considering Cunningham’s recent role reduction, this certainly is not a surprise. Should Cunningham be dealt, he would follow longtime inside linebacker mate Benardrick McKinney out the door.

Houston traded McKinney to Miami in March, though McKinney was later cut and has made his way to the Giants. McKinney missed much of last season, but Cunningham was on the field throughout. The plus run defender led the NFL with 164 tackles (106 solo — also an NFL-high tally), this production coming shortly after he signed a four-year, $58MM extension. The previous Texans regime authorized that deal, but Cunningham has seen his playing time dramatically reduced this year.

After playing 100% of Houston’s defensive snaps in Weeks 1 and 3, Cunningham checked in with a sub-30% workload over the past two games. David Culley referred to him as a two-down player recently. Having such a player attached to a $14.5MM-per-year contract is not ideal. The Texans would need to eat more than $15MM in dead money to trade Cunningham, though they made a potential deal easier with a restructure earlier this year. Cunningham is playing on a $990K base salary this season.

Cunningham’s stock drop under the Culley-Nick Caserio regime aside, the Texans are not planning to trade their two high-priced players on offense — Laremy Tunsil and Brandin Cooks — barring big offers, Fowler adds. Houston’s bevy of veterans on short-term deals could generate interest this week, but it appears the new regime still views Tunsil and Cooks as useful for the long-term mission.

Deshaun Watson Would Not Be Placed On Exempt List If Traded

Multiple teams are still interested in trading for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports (video link). Critically, Rapoport says Watson would not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list if he were to be dealt.

Of course, Watson has no interest in playing for the Texans, and the Texans have no interest in trying to force their best trade asset to suit up. So he has effectively been on paid leave all season, but we have heard all along that if another club were to trade for the three-time Pro Bowler, the league could step in and park him on the exempt list until his legal situation is resolved, thereby making a trade difficult to consummate.

Rapoport, citing the provision of the NFL’s personal conduct policy that states that a player can be placed on the exempt list if he has been charged with a felony or violent crime, says Watson — who has not been criminally charged at this point — should be eligible to play for any team that acquires him. And, RapSheet hears that a deal is expected to be completed prior to the November 2 deadline.

A recent report indicated that the Panthers and Eagles were no longer involved in the Watson sweepstakes and that the Dolphins were the only team left standing. However, Rapoport says the Dolphins are not alone in their pursuit, and that in addition to Carolina, Philadelphia, and the Broncos, there are other clubs sniffing around.

That report could have been leaked by the Texans in an effort to get Miami to increase its offer. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that no team has been as motivated as the Dolphins to get a deal done, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that the Texans have told another club that they have to beat Miami’s offer (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald on Twitter). Plus, it’s unclear if Watson will waive his no-trade clause for any team other than the Dolphins.

In addition to Watson, there are other Texans players that could be on the move in the next week or so. La Canfora hears that LT Laremy Tunsil could have been a trade candidate if he had not suffered a serious thumb injury earlier this month, and other players that GM Nick Caserio might seek to trade include QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, LB Christian Kirksey, and CB Desmond King.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/16/21

The Week 6 Saturday minor move blitz:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

Laremy Tunsil To Undergo Thumb Surgery

The Texans will be without their top offensive lineman for the foreseeable future. Laremy Tunsil is slated to undergo thumb surgery Thursday, first-year Texans HC David Culley said.

Culley said Tunsil is expected to miss around four weeks, ESPN.com’s Sarah Barshop tweets. This points to an IR stay for the veteran left tackle. Tunsil has made the Pro Bowl in each of his two seasons in Houston. Tunsil suffered a full UCL tear in his thumb, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

While little was expected from the Texans this year, they played well against the Patriots in Week 5. Davis Mills enjoyed by far his best game, totaling 312 passing yards and three touchdown tosses. Tunsil’s injury stands to make the third-round QB pick’s development more difficult. The Texans face the Colts in Week 6. Their bye arrives in Week 10, so Tunsil returning the following week would make sense.

Houston has first-round talent Tytus Howard at guard for the time being, and Culley confirmed the third-year blocker will stay inside rather than move to left tackle to fill in for Tunsil. That is the plan for this week, at least. The Texans have Tunsil attached to a three-year, $66MM deal that runs through 2023.

Injury Updates: Giants, Tunsil, Gronkowski

It sounds like Saquon Barkley avoided a serious injury. The Giants star running back is believed to have suffered a low-ankle sprain, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter).

The injury will knock him out of Sunday’s contest against the Rams, but he’ll otherwise be considered week-to-week. Earlier today, Giants head coach Joe Judge seemed to confirm that Barkley avoided a serious injury.

“In terms of the X-rays that came back, (it was) better news than it could’ve been for us,” Judge said (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). “[S]o it was a little bit of a sigh of relief with a couple of things just knowing the player and what he’s battled through.”

After being limited to only two games in 2020, Barkley had started each of New York’s first five games in 2021. The 24-year-old has collected 325 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on 68 touches.

More injury notes from around the NFL:

  • One of Barkley’s teammates was also lucky. Giants wideout Kenny Golladay will miss Sunday’s game, but the free agent acquisition avoided a “major” injury, per Rapoport (on Twitter). There was a “major sigh of relief” following the diagnosis, which has since been confirmed as a hyperextended knee (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Twitter). Golladay has disappointed to start his career in New York, hauling in only 17 receptions through five games.
  • Another Giants player wasn’t so lucky. Rookie Rodarius Williams tore his ACL against the Cowboys yesterday, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (via Twitter). The rookie sixth-round pick has seen time in all five games this season, collecting one tackle.
  • Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil suffered a torn UCL in his thumb during yesterday’s loss to the Patriots, reports Rapoport (via Twitter). The Pro Bowler will eventually need surgery, but the organization is hoping Tunsil can play through the injury and hold off surgery for the time being. The former first-round pick has missed at least one regular season game in each of his five full seasons.
  • Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski could end up playing on Thursday against the Eagles. Head coach Bruce Arians said Gronk is “very close” to returning to the field (per NFL.com). After collecting four touchdowns through his first three games of the season, the 32-year-old has missed the past two games while he recovered from a rib injury.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/30/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here. Teams have until 3pm CT Tuesday to pare their rosters down to 53 players.

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: LB Darron Lee

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/13/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Chicago Bears

  • Waived: WR Thomas Ives

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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.