Highest paid tackle

Texans lock up left tackle Tunsil with $22 million per year deal

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The Houston Texans did not have a first round pick on Thursday, but they made news Friday when they locked up left tackle Laremy Tunsil to a three-year contract extension.

Tunsil, acquired from the Miami Dolphins prior to last season for two No. 1 picks and a No. 2, becomes the highest paid tackle in football. He made his first Pro Bowl last season.

According to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the extension is worth $57 million guaranteed with a $13 million signing bonus, and averages $22 million per season. The deal means Tunsil would be under contract through 2023. Tunsil is slated to make $10.5 million this year.

Tunsil helped solidify what had been an abysmal offensive line before last season. Paired with second-year right tackle Titus Howard - who was playing terrific football before his injury - the Texans have the makings of. nice pair of bookends for the immediate future. Tunsil was a false start machine last year, but other than that he played at a high level.

Next up could be extensions for linebackers Zack Cunningham or quarterback Deshaun Watson. But the Tunsil signing was critical. If he walked after next season considering the assets they gave up, it would have been a disaster. But the Texans avoided that with Friday's deal.

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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