There was much ado about Laremy Tunsil's reported $22 million per year deal with the Texans, which made him the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history. But if you break down the numbers, the contract is not as cap damaging as the initial reports.
When you see big money deals like this, it is easy to be critical. But without context, you don't get the whole story. The most important part of the contract is the yearly cap hit; that impacts how much the team will have to spend on other players.
Per overthecap.com, the year by year breakdown of the deal is not nearly as punitive as $22 million per year would indicate. In fact, Tunsil's cap hit at no point reaches $22 million in a single season. The reason for the high average? Tunsil got a boost on his 2020 cap hit, which was to be $10.5 million.
Let's look at the year by year impact on the salary cap:
2020: $14.1 million. This is pretty much fair to below market value for a 26-year-old left tackle coming off his first Pro Bowl.
2021: $19.4 million. The first year of the extension kicks at a level that is above any other left tackle. High, but not ridiculous.
2022: $21.1 million. This is where you start getting into questionable territory, but in two years this probably will not make him the top paid offensive lineman.
2023: $21.75 million. See 2022.
The good news is if Tunsil busts, the Texans could bail after two years with only $6.5 in dead money. Ideally, though, you do not expect to punt on your franchise left tackle. So the last two years will be critical. Before the Rona, everyone expected the salary cap to go up exponentially, making those last two years palatable. But that remains to be seen.
So overall, this is not a big overpay, but certainly a slight one. They were always going to have to pay an average of $17-18 million per year minimum, so a slight overpay costs them the price of a backup lineman. Of in the Texans case, a kicker, on top of what he would have gotten. So not a terrible deal at all.
Now the bad news. In context with some of the other recent deals, the Texans could easily run into cap trouble when they get Deshaun Watson his extension. Whitney Mercilus' will take up anywhere from $12-14 million over the next four years with no real escape plan. Bernardrick McKinney and Nick Martin have over-market deals as well. Not to mention overpaying a kicker.
They also overpaid for Randall Cobb, whose cap hit bumps to over $10 million in 2021 and 2022.
The Texans could move on from David Johnson after 2020 and Brandin Cooks as well, but one-year rentals for a second round pick and DeAndre Hopkins? Not a good look. Johnson will cost $9 million and Cooks $12 million in 2021.
There will be ways to clear cap space - guys like Will Fuller, Bernardrick McKinney and Zach Fulton could all be jettisoned next season in addition to Cooks and Johnson. And the one no one wants to hear - J.J. Watt. But are there viable replacements for all these players on the roster? That is the bigger question.
So before you blame the Tunsil extension on future cap problems, keep in mind his deal is not that outrageous. It is some of the other ones that should be causing concern.
Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.
Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.
“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”
Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”
L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.
Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.
Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.
Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.
“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”
Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.
Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.
The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.
Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.
“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”
Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.
Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.
Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.
Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.