A Closer Look: Why is Duane Brown Holding out From the Houston Texans?

After some lucrative contracts handed out this off-season, it is easy to see why Duane Brown is holding out.

Houston Texans starting left tackle Duane Brown decided not to attend the start of OTAs due to a contract dispute of his current deal. When looking at what Brown could possibly be asking for, the Texans long time offensive tackle may have a justifiable argument. What exactly Brown is seeking is between him and the Texans but given with other situations around the league and the history of the Texans when faced with these circumstances, we can speculate on what it is Brown desires to achieve.

One issue that could be under consideration for Brown could be what happened to Texans right tackle Derek Newton, and his devastating injury last season against the Denver Broncos. Newton tore the patellar tendons in both knees, which placed him on the injured reserve and further resulted in the Texans placing him on the reserve/PUP list ending his 2017 season. However, Newton accepted a pay cut to stay with the team while he rehabs his injury to try for a comeback in 2018. 

Brown signed a 6-year $53.4 million extension prior to the 2012 season, giving him a contract he was more than worthy of at the time that deal was inked. Then fast forward to 2017. Brown’s final two years of his deal are set to pay him $9.65 million in 2017 and $9.750 million in 2018, but the kicker is that these last two years contain ZERO guaranteed money. This means Brown would have to go through OTAs, mandatory mini-camp, training camp, and the preseason before his contract becomes fully guaranteed after week one of the regular season. With no guarantees in his contract, Brown would be working for free during one of the more heavy workload times of the year, where injury risk remains high. 

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Also, take into account what happened this off-season with a weak offensive tackle market. Five offensive tackles signed deals that pay more per year than Brown is set to receive and these are tackles who are considered to be lesser talents according to many metrics. The rundown of that group that signed is enough to force any offensive tackle to take another look at their own deal. 

  1. Matt Kalil, who was injured for a good portion of the 2016 season, landed a 5-year, $55.5 million deal with $31 million guaranteed. 
  2. Riley Reiff signed a 5-year, $58.75 million deal with $26.4 million guaranteed. 
  3. Russell Okung, who has settled injuries, signed a 4-year deal for $53 million with $25 million guaranteed. 
  4. Andre Whitworth, who is 35 years old, received a 3-year, $33.75 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. 
  5. Finally, Ricky Wagner blew up the right tackle by landing a 5-year $47.5 million deal with $20.5 guaranteed. 

With those deals being handed out, Brown became the 8th highest paid left tackle but more importantly, the only tackle in the top 12 in the NFL with an average per year less than $11 million. Brown’s life of the contract averages out to $8.9 million a year, nearly $2 million under the next closest contract in the top 12 paid offensive tackles. 

It is clear why Brown is holding out and looking for a new deal. The crazy off-season of a weak offensive tackle market made Brown’s contract outdated quickly. With zero guaranteed money, no injury protection, and most significantly, an average yearly pay that is well below market value, it is easy to discern what his issues are.

With the earning window for NFL players small as it is, it is hard to fault Duane Brown for trying to get the Texans attention given recent developments around the NFL. 

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