Per FOX26 Mark Berman’s tweet:
"Texans OT Duane Brown agrees to a 6-year extension worth $53.4 million with 22 million guaranteed, per NFL sources."
This is huge.
In an offseason that saw the Houston Texans completely revamp the right side of their offensive line by replacing proven veterans with inexperienced youngsters, questions were raised on whether or not a lack of continuity will hamper the effectiveness of the group that has played such a huge part of the team’s success on offense under Gary Kubiak, particularly in the running game.
Even worse, fans began to wonder about the front office’s direction. Following the best season of the franchise to date, was it wise to let go of such a key cog and influential clubhouse leader in Eric Winston just to trim payroll? And didn’t Mike Brisiel prove enough to earn him a new contract considering he played through a fractured fibula yet was still effective? Good thing the heart of the O-line Chris Myers was signed to a new contract, or otherwise Texans fans would have spurred a riot as a reaction to GM Rick Smith and Co.’s handling of the offensive line this offseason. But overall, fans’ reaction was negative.
Today, though, the extension of Duane Brown carried with it a loud, clear and positive message from the Texans’ front office to their loyal fanbase: they do care about winning. This is huge.
PR reasons aside, this was clearly a move that the Texans absolutely have to make from a football standpoint.
After being drafted 26th overall out of Virginia Tech in 2008, the 6-4, 320-pound Virginia native has taken over and solidified the left tackle position for the Texans. Brown started every game as a rookie in 2008 and, save for a four-game suspension in 2010, remained the team’s starting LT ever since. After allowing 11.5 sacks in his rookie season, Brown showed marked improvement in pass-protection the following seasons, giving up just 7.5 and 6.5 sacks in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Last season was his best year to date, as Brown allowed a league-best 2.5 sacks. Even more impressive, he was not called for a single holding penalty while being flagged for a false start just once. His stellar work up front was a big reason of the team’s success on offense in 2011, as they ranked in the top ten in the NFL in both rushing (2nd) and passing (9th). Brown was also named to the All-Pro Second Team for his performance.
And this Houston offense will continue to enjoy top-tier left tackle play for potentially the next six years. This is huge.
2008 first overall pick Jake Long was signed by the Dolphins to a 5-year, $57 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. Philadelphia locked up Jason Peters with a 6-year, $60 million deal with $25 million guaranteed. The Browns’ Joe Thomas is in the second year of a 8-year, $92 million contract with $44 million guaranteed. Comparing with other top left tackles around the league, Brown’s new contract looks very reasonable and certainly does not clog the team’s payroll flexibility going forward. This is huge.
Now, think about it, had Brown not been signed to a new contract, the Texans will head to the 2012 offseason with contract status of their best pass-rusher (Connor Barwin), best offensive lineman (Brown), and starting quarterback (Matt Schaub) up in the air. GMs are capable of multi-tasking, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to take it one step at a time.
Considering the fact that the Texans have established a policy of not negotiating contracts during the season, it is extremely vital that they act fast before the season starts. Locking Brown up accomplished the first step, now they can fully focus their attention on Barwin and Schaub. This is huge.
All in all, this is a great move by the Texans that could potentially set them up for a long window of success. And this, my friend, is huge too.