The Houston Texans traded a massive haul to bring Laremy Tunsil to town ahead of the 2019 season, and now it appears they'll need to pay a massive haul to keep Tunsil around for 2020 and beyond. Joining ESPN's "NFL Live" on Thursday, the Pro Bowl left tackle said he wants to become the NFL's highest-paid offensive lineman amid negotiations for a long-term contract with the Texans.
"I'm not going to talk numbers, as I'm going to keep that between me and the club," Tunsil said, per Field Yates. "(But) I am looking to be the highest-paid lineman, of course. I worked my butt off to be in that position, and hopefully we can make that happen."
The veteran's words echo a March report from the Houston Chronicle, which indicated Tunsil Dallas Cowboys' Tyron Smith currently owns the biggest total deal ($97.6 million) among active linemen, but in terms of average annual value, the Philadelphia Eagles' Lane Johnson leads the pack at $18 million per year. It's also worth noting Johnson plays right tackle, whereas Tunsil protects Deshaun Watson's blind side, conceivably putting him in line for an even more lucrative contract.on a new deal, averaging at least $19-20 million per season. The
According to the Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, the Texans previously offered Tunsil a long-term deal averaging $18.5 million per season, but the 25-year-old countered with a higher mark. And there are no indications the former Miami Dolphins standout plans to settle for any less than he can get considering what Houston paid to acquire him.
Drafted 13th overall by Miami out of Ole Miss in 2016, Tunsil joined the Texans in August 2019 along with wide receiver Kenny Stills and a fourth-round pick in exchange for a package including two first-rounders and a future second-rounder. As CBS Sports contributor Joel Corry pointed out, Houston failing to lock up Tunsil as soon as it landed him essentially gives the lineman all of the leverage in current contract talks. At 25, he could easily look to hit free agency after 2020 and cash in for even more, especially after earning his first Pro Bowl appearance for a team that was in dire need of improvement up front.
After trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, the Texans own an estimated $35.8 million in 2020 salary cap space -- the second-most in the league. So even with Tunsil at an advantage in negotiations, it wouldn't be a surprise to see an agreement come down prior to the season.