Houston Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil told ESPN on Wednesday that he wanted to become the NFL’s highest-paid tackle.
Tunsil, 28, is in the midst of a Pro Bowl season for the Texans and says that he wants to surpass fellow tackle Trent Williams’ massive contract that he signed with the San Francisco 49ers worth $138 million over six years (or $23 million per season). Williams’ mega-deal with the 49ers was signed in March of 2021, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
Tunsil — who will enter the final season of a three-year, $66 million extension signed in 2020 — is set to make a base salary of $18.5 million for the Texans in 2023. Still, Tunsil is likely to try to get an extension or get his money elsewhere.
“I don’t know who’s the highest right now, maybe Trent [Williams] at 23 [million], but I want to top that,” Tunsil told ESPN. “Always want to reset the market. Perfect opportunity to reset the market. Everything is lining up as far as my contract to how I’m playing. Everything lining up perfectly.”
If only there were a team in desperate need of an offensive lineman of Tunsil’s caliber and had the money to make all of his dreams of resetting the offensive line market and topping Trent Williams’ record-setting deal come true …
Oh yeah, the Bears can do that!
As I said, Tunsil is under contract with the Texans for the 2023 season, but if there’s a will, there’s a way. Texans GM Nick Caserio already converted Tunsil’s $17.8 million salary in 2022 into a $16.8 million signing bonus before this season, leaving his base salary at $1.03 million. As we know, there are ways to maneuver in the NFL.
The Texans can trade Tunsil or outright release him to free up cap space this offseason. At which point, the Bears come into play.
Personally, I wouldn’t say I like the idea of trading assets to the Texans for Tunsil and then handing him a record-setting deal on top of that. But if the Texans release the 28-year-old offensive lineman, and it only costs the Bears money, I’m all for it.
Tunsil’s pass block win rate is at 92 percent, which ranks 12th in the NFL according to ESPN, and PFF has him graded out like this in 2022:
So, Tunsil has been elite in the pass-blocking department this season but not so much in the run-blocking department. Which is a skillet that I wouldn’t mind having at left tackle protecting Justin Fields’ blindside in 2023 and beyond.
But, does a one-dimensional tackle — even if he’s pretty elite in that one dimension — warrant a record-setting deal?
Trent Williams, whom Tunsil wants to top with his new deal, has been an elite pass blocker and run blocker in every season of his career, posting a 91.8 PFF run block grade and an 82.7 pass block grade in the season leading up to his record-setting extension with the 49ers.
Tunsil is already the third-highest offensive tackle in the NFL behind Williams and Packers tackle David Bakhtiari, so a new deal for him might make him the highest paid, even if he’s been a one-dimensional player his entire career.
Someone is going to give him the bag, and it might as well be the Bears if the Texans release him and he becomes a free agent this offseason.