INDIANAPOLIS – Laremy Tunsil has a detailed vision of building a strong personal legacy, a winning one that goes beyond how he routinely stonewalls the top pass rushers in the game.
The Pro Bowl left tackle wants to help transform the 2-13-1 Texans into a winning program and, one day, conclude his career with the AFC South franchise.
“I want to turn this program around,” Tunsil said. “That’s what I want: to turn this organization around from a losing organization into a winning organization. I want to finish my career here in Houston.”
There’s a hefty financial element and respect factor contained within Tunsil’s goals.
Tunsil wants to break new ground in the elite offensive tackle market and, once again, become the highest paid offensive tackle in NFL history. Originally signed to a three-year, $66 million contract after being acquired in a trade from the Miami Dolphins, Tunsil wants to top San Francisco 49ers star Trent Williams’ $23.01 million average with a blockbuster contract extension this offseason. Tunsil views himself as a valuable insurance policy who keeps the quarterback safe and standing. With quarterback salaries skyrocketing -- Aaron Rodgers ($50.3 million), Russell Wilson ($49 million), Kyler Murray ($46.1 million) and Deshaun Watson ($230 million fully guaranteed, $46 million average) -- the tackle market is also expected to keep rising. That could mean, if the Texans are amenable to writing a large check, to an expensive deal for Tunsil that could potentially fall into the $24 million to $25 million per year neighborhood.
“That would mean a lot to me to reset the market,” Tunsil said. “Absolutely, you have to have insurance. You have to protect the quarterback. You have to pay left tackles.”
Tunsil, who doesn’t have an agent and helped negotiate his original contract with the Texans with the advice and counsel of advisors Saint Omni and Laolu Sanni, hopes to talk with Texans general manager Nick Caserio soon to get the conversation started toward this offseason goal.
“Hopefully, I’ll hear something next week,” Tunsil said. “Plant the seed and see where we go from here.”
Tunsil is one of the few bright spots on a bad team. He’s the highest graded pass blocker in the NFL with a 90.9 Pro Football Focus analytics grade. The former Dolphins first-round draft pick from Mississippi has allowed just one sack all season, and that was in the first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts.
Named a starter as a three-time Pro Bowl selection, Tunsil has been setting and meeting goals all season. That includes remaining healthy and starting every game after undergoing thumb surgery last season and being placed on injured reserve. The next goal on his list: being named an All-Pro for the first time.
“That’s the next box I want to check,” Tunsil said. “It would mean a lot. That was one of my main goals this offseason, make the Pro Bowl and be an All-Pro. I emphasized the All-Pro because that’s just a little bit better. That would mean the ultimate respect, being an All-Pro in this league.”
What’s Tunsil’s argument for that status?
“How consistent I am, I stay consistent in everything I do,” Tunsil said. “The pass sets, the run game, helping my teammates. I pride myself on all of that.”
Named to the Pro Bowl again after allowing just three quarterback hits and 17 pressures, Tunsil believes he’s made a convincing case for that nod of respct.
“Don’t doubt me,” he said. “That was the main thing that motivated me the whole entire season. They see that I’m LT1. They see I’m the best left tackle in the league.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com