The cuts were all but finalized when Ian Rapoport dropped the news that the Miami Dolphins were trading Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans for a haul of draft picks. The final terms were Tunsil and Stills for two first-round picks, a second-rounder, and two depth pieces.
Your initial reaction is fair: “Two firsts? For Laremy Tunsil?? An outrageous overpay!” But I’m here to tell you that this wasn’t an overpay, and the Texans were right to make this trade despite the high costs. We’ll never see it as a steal, but a year from now we’ll all agree they made the correct decision.
Consider this: They’ve failed to put a competent line in front of Deshaun Watson for two years, and saw the effects of such failure last season when Watson was unable to travel on the team plane to Jacksonville after concerns arose about the effect of air pressure on Watson’s partially collapsed lung. They then watched divisional foe Andrew Luck call it quits because of the punishment inflicted on his body, which can be mostly attributed to the failures of the front office and their own inability to put together a competent offensive line.
Earlier this week I wrote that the Texans should be taking notes on how not to handle their young quarterback when looking at Luck’s situation. It appears Bill O'Brien reads the blog. Houston is taking a big chance by mortgaging their future for Tunsil, but given their situation, it isn’t an overpay. At 25-years-old, Tunsil is already a top-15 left tackle in the game. That may not seem particularly noteworthy, but there are only a handful of people on the planet at any given time who can protect a quarterback’s blindside at a consistently elite level. Tunsil has room to grow and has already shown flashes of that ability.
Trading what will likely be two late-twenties first-rounders for a good player with potential to be great at arguably the third-most important position on offense should have been an easy decision for the Texans, and it was. Tunsil gives them a rock on the left side for the next ten years, if everything goes well. While one offensive lineman can only make so much difference in the grand scheme of things, there are few players more important than the one watching the quarterback’s back.
It’s very likely Tunsil, a former top-10 pick, is better than any singular offensive lineman they could have gotten in the back half of the first round. Sure, he’s only under contract for a year before being up for what will certainly be a big extension. Essentially trading two future players with five years of team control for any one player is a tough pill to swallow. But Tunsil has the most important job on the team: preventing their franchise guy from taking big hits. He’ll make a world of difference, and the Texans will have no regrets on this one.