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Laremy Tunsil
NFL

Can Laremy Tunsil ‘Reset’ NFL OT Market?

  • Justin Melo
  • December 29, 2022
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Houston Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is looking to “reset the tackle market” via his next contract, according to ESPN. Tunsil is currently signed through the 2023 campaign but will be looking to sign a lucrative extension this offseason prior to entering a contract year. He appears primed to become the highest-paid tackle in football.

Tunsil signed a three-year, $66 million extension in 2020. Tunsil’s average annual earning of $22 million was surpassed by San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams after he became the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history with a six-year, $138.06 million contract extension in March 2021.

The stars are aligning for Tunsil to surpass Williams’ deal. Tunsil was recently named to the Pro Bowl as the AFC’s starting left tackle. His next contract could be worth approximately $25 million annually. Texans general manager Nick Caserio should offer Tunsil a three-year extension worth $75 million with his existing deal remaining intact—meaning the Texans would be committing to Tunsil for the next four seasons, through his age-32 season.

Both parties could possess an interest in avoiding the six-year term Williams signed in San Francisco. A shorter contract affords the Texans some breathing room should Tunsil’s level of play tail off in his early 30s. For Tunsil, signing a shorter contract would allow him another bite at the apple should he maintain his current form. Tunsil could potentially reset the market again in 2026.

Tunsil has been outstanding this season. His pass-rush win rate of 92% ranks 12th among tackles, per ESPN Stats & Info. Tunsil has been credited with allowing just one sack (second fewest) and 12 pressures (third fewest) all season long.

It’s worth acknowledging the Texans don’t have to re-sign Tunsil. Trading or releasing Tunsil is a financially beneficial alternative option. Tunsil is currently set to carry a sizable cap hit of $35,210,834 million in 2023, per Spotrac. His dead cap number is $16,710,834 million, which means the Texans could save approximately $18.5 million against the cap by trading or releasing Tunsil.

Why would they though? Signing Tunsil to an extension could lower his 2023 cap hit through bonuses and guarantees. Caserio is rebuilding a roster that possesses enough holes without the need to create another one. Tunsil is providing the Texans with high-level left tackle play despite their offensive struggles. The Texans already possess a ton of draft capital thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade. They don’t need more. They need good players ala Tunsil. Tunsil should be viewed as a franchise cornerstone moving forward.

The Texans currently own the No. 1 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re expected to draft a quarterback such as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis. Our latest NFL mock draft sent Stroud to the Texans. Houston’s incoming rookie quarterback will benefit from the services of an elite blindside protector such as Tunsil. Houston’s quarterbacking situation adds extra value to Tunsil’s presence and impending extension. Consider signing Tunsil for the foreseeable future as a way to protect April’s top investment. He also helps create rushing lanes for ascending first-year running back Dameon Pierce.

Tunsil is one of the league’s premier offensive tackles. Expectations will be heightened for the Texans in 2023 as they usher in a new era with a young quarterback. Signing him to an extension is a no-brainer decision for Caserio.

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Justin Melo