One of the things that the Texans front office has been leaking to the press for close to a year now was that they wanted to come to an agreement on a extension with franchise left tackle Duane Brown before he entered the final season of his current deal. As it turns out, they were telling the truth.
In a season that saw Brown get a pro bowl snub after allowing only 2 sacks for the entirety of the 2011 regular season and playoffs (18 games), the Texans apparently took notice, rewarding him with a 6 year, $53.4 million contract extension that has $22 million in guaranteed money.
Not bad for a guy that the experts called “a reach” when Houston took him 26th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft after trading out of an earlier spot. By the way, the conventional wisdom around Houston and from the so called experts was that they should have stayed at their original slot and selected running back Rashard Mendenhall. Just thought I’d throw that juicy tidbit at you.
By comparison to other players of his position and caliber, this is a fine deal for the Texans, whom I expected to pay more to keep Brown. For example, the Cleveland Browns ponied up 7 years and $84 million on an extension for Joe Thomas last year. I’m guessing Jake Long down in Miami was the least happy to hear about the deal Brown accepted. I’m in no way implying that Brown is a better overall player than those two, just using their current deals as a reference.
So, did Brown take a pay cut? I know it sound sickening to ask if a guy getting $53 million is a pay cut, but remember that this is a different world. Also, the difference between the NBA and Major League Baseball contracts with the NFL is that they are only partially guaranteed. In the other two sports, you’re getting your money even if your career is ended tomorrow. But in the NFL, the guaranteed money is the only thing you need to pay attention to. Brown will receive $22 million, which is half of the $44 million that Joe Thomas got in guaranteed cash.
So, on paper, it would appear that Brown did indeed take a pay cut as opposed to what he would have gotten if he had hit the open market after the end of this season. Why would he do that? There are several factors that come into play.
First, this is a team whose needle is pointing up. They’re young and built to contend right now. Second, this is a quality city that plenty of players love to live in during the offseason and even make their permanent home. Third, he knows the system and knows that he fits it exceptionally well. And last, he wanted financial stability now, as opposed to playing another season in an expiring deal and risking a career-ending injury.
It sounds stupid for fans outside of Houston who don’t follow this team constantly when you hear me say that the guys want to be here and it really isn’t all about money to them. But it really is true. How else can you explain Arian Foster taking less than he would have gotten elsewhere? The only player that was about money over everything else on this team was Mario Williams and that’s why he’ll be lining up in Buffalo next year.
In the end, lots of people say that Houston runs a scheme offense and there is no reason to spend that kind of money on an offensive lineman when you can just “plug any other guy in there to do the same.” This couldn’t be more false.
This is a complicated scheme that takes a while to learn, and franchise left tackles are difficult to come across. This is an exceptional move for the Texans who have put together a great young core and look like they aren’t going away any time soon.
Next up for Houston, they have some big decisions to make. No way they’ll be able to keep all of their young talent with Connor Barwin and Matt Schaub up next year, as well as an extension for Brian Cushing looming on the horizon. There are going to be some tough decisions to be made.