HOUSTON – Arguably one of the biggest snubs on the annual All-Pro team, Texans Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil was recognized Monday by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Tunsil was named first-team All-AFC.
Tunsil was one of the few bright spots on a 3-13-1 team as the highest graded pass blocker in the NFL. The former Dolphins first-round draft pick from Mississippi 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 set and met goals all season. That includes remaining healthy and starting every game after undergoing thumb surgery last season and being placed on injured reserve.
Named to the Pro Bowl again, Tunsil is proud of what he displayed on the field.
“Don’t doubt me,” Tunsil 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.
“How consistent I am, I stay consistent in everything I do. The pass sets, the run game, helping my teammates. I pride myself on all of that.”
Tunsil is one of the top blockers in the NFL. The Texans restructured Tunsil’s contract this offseason, moving forward with him as their top offensive lineman, converting his $17.85 million salary into a $16.815 million bonus with $1.035 million as his new salary. His 2023 salary of $18.5 million is unchanged after previously signing a three-year, $66 million contract after joining the Texans, a blockbuster deal he helped negotiate along with his advisors.
Tunsil is regarded as a relative bargain considering the quality of his play and compensation structure. He has a 1.01 cash to cap ratio has a $17.707 million salary cap charge for 8.27 percent of the Texans’ salary cap, a cash payout that represents 9.66 percent of the team’s spending and a contract ranking of third among left tackles, according to Over The Cap metrics.
This year, Tunsil hasn’t missed a snap and has emerged as a team leader who loves playing for a team that needs more contributors like him.
Tunsil has proven to the organization that he’s all-in. He made it a point before the trade deadline to communicate to friends and other key people that he had no desire to be traded. He wants to be in Houston on a long-term basis and hopes to negotiate with the Texans this offseason to add more years to his current deal, which carries a $35.21 million salary cap figure in 2023.
In 2019, the Dolphins traded Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Texans in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round pick, 2021 second-round pick, cornerback Johnson Bademosi and offensive lineman Julién Davenport.
Although it was a hefty price to pay in terms of giving up valuable draft capital, Tunsil has performed at a high level and stabilized a critical position that had lacked an established presence since trading former Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks. A contract extension is what Tunsil is eyeing.
“Hopefully, we talk about that this offseason and they extend me a couple more years here,” Tunsil said. “I love Houston.”
Tunsil 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,” Tunsil said. “Plant the seed and see where we go from here.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com