It appears that left tackle Laremy Tunsil will be returning for another season with the Houston Texans in 2022.
According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, Tunsil is expected to be retained after he was the subject of "unprompted exploratory trade calls from other teams." Tunsil appeared to react on Twitter, and Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network confirmed Wilson's report:
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the Texans have restructured Tunsil's contract by turning his base salary into a signing bonus, which freed up $8.4 million in cap space.
Tunsil, who is set to turn 28 in August, has spent the past three seasons with the Texans after he was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. The Dolphins, who selected him with a first-round pick in the 2016 draft, picked up his fifth-year option prior to trading him.
Tunsil made an immediate impact in Houston, earning back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in 2019 and 2020.
Prior to the 2020 season, Tunsil signed a three-year, $66 million contract extension with $57.85 million guaranteed. The annual value of the deal made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league. He is set to make a base salary of $17.85 million in 2022 and $18.5 million the following year, according to Spotrac.
Tunsil appeared in just five games last season. He was forced to undergo thumb surgery, which kept him off the field for most of 2021. His injury and large cap number likely factored into the trade speculation.
The Texans have the No. 3 pick in the 2022 draft. Houston has many holes to fill and can go in a variety of ways with its first selection. The team can select another offensive lineman to play opposite of Tunsil such as Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu, or it can try to shore up its defense with an edge-rusher like Kayvon Thibodeaux.