The Houston Texans aggressively locked up their franchise tackle Thursday, agreeing to a six-year, $53.4 million deal with All-Pro Duane Brown. He'll also make just over $22 million in guaranteed money over the life of the contract.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle first reported the extension Thursday:
Brown's six-year extension, which begins in 2013 and runs through 2018, is worth $53.4 million. He gets $22.08 million guaranteed and his average salary per year is $8.9 million. Brown, coming off his best season, had one year left on his original five-year contract and will make $2.08 million this year.
Brown, a 6'4", 320-pounder, was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season.
With Brown's extension done, the Texans now can focus their energy and resources on re-signing 2013 free agents Matt Schaub and Connor Barwin. Brown's deal getting done first shows how much the team values its left tackle of the now and the future.
Below, we break down the pros (many) and the cons (very, very few):
It's a Bargain Deal
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report's own resident scouting guru, ranked Brown as the NFL's third-best left tackle for the 2012 season. Miller went as far as to say Brown is on his way to becoming the NFL's elite left tackle.
Yet the Texans paid Brown just $8.9 million per year in this extension, which now ranks as the seventh-highest deal for a left tackle in the NFL. Six other guys have bigger deals, including D'Brickshaw Ferguson, Trent Williams and Jordan Gross.
Brown could have lassoed millions more on the open market next summer, making this an extremely team-friendly deal for the Texans.
In my estimation, Brown likely surrendered at least $10-15 million signing this deal now, assuming he stays at the level he was last season in 2012. It's simply a bargain any way you slice it up.
Locks Up a Key Component Long-Term
The left tackle position has quietly become one of the game's most important. In an age of football where passing is king and pass-rushers now stand 6'6" and 300 pounds, protecting the blind side has never been a more difficult task.
Barring injury, the Texans can now forget the worries associated with the position for the next six years. Brown, just 26 years old, will be under contract through the 2018 season, which is eons away in football terms.
He'll also be just 32 when the deal expires, which likely means the Texans have very little risk in throwing away money toward the back end of the contract. It's a safe deal for both parties.
Brown Is a Good Football Player
Probably too general, and far too obvious, but worth stating.
Consider that Brown ranked as Pro Football Focus' second-best left tackle for the 2011 season, allowing zero quarterback sacks in over 1,000 snaps. It's all the more impressive that Brown accomplished that feat with three different quarterbacks under center, including a rookie in T.J. Yates.
The AP named him a 2011 second-team All-Pro for his efforts.
In 2010, Brown wasn't called for a single holding penalty.
The Texans have also steadily climbed in the league rushing totals since Brown became a starter, going from the mid-to-late teens early on to second in the NFL last season. Brown has been a part in that trend toward the league's rushing peak.
There's so little wrong with this extension that finding a con took a little digging. And maybe this isn't an issue moving forward, but Brown does have a drug suspension on his record.
In 2010, Brown missed four games after violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. According to the Houston Press, Brown mistakenly took a supplement that included a banned substance, which triggered the failed test.
Brown told McClain (previously linked story) that he has grown up since that suspension.
“It took me a while to mature and to get to this point in my life where I’ve become a complete pro,” Brown said. “Everyone knows how hard I work and how serious I take my job.”