For Texans, Duane Brown’s holdout looms large
Standing outside at Hutcheson Park while back in town Monday with his wife, Devi, to deliver free barbecue and donate supplies to victims of Tropical Storm Harvey, Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown was only a short drive from his old workplace at NRG Stadium.
However, the contract divide between the three-time Pro Bowl selection and the AFC South franchise remains significant.
No compromise is expected to be bridged prior to a season opener Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars as Brown remains on the reserve-did not report list and will miss at least one game. With both sides dug into their respective positions, Brown could miss several games and be docked a $552,941 game check for each week he misses.
Brown emphasized that he does want to play this season. However, the former first-round draft pick didn’t indicate any specific timetable for when this impasse might end.
“I’m not going to get into that too much,” Brown said during a quickly planned event attended by his Houston-based agent, Kennard McGuire, and former Texans offensive tackles Chester Pitts and Ephraim Salaam. “But I definitely plan on playing football this year.”
A business decision
Brown is due non-guaranteed base salaries of $9.4 million and $9.75 million for the next two seasons. That ranks him 11th in 2017 and 12th in 2018 among left tackles in terms of cash compensation.
When asked if there has been communication with the Texans, Brown replied: “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Brown racked up $40,000 in daily fines for skipping training camp, a total of over $1.5 million.
Brown already had his $9.65 million base salary reduced to $9.4 million for this year because he triggered a de-escalator clause in his contract for skipping the entire offseason.
“It’s tough, man, to be away from my craft,” Brown said. “It’s what I love to do. Those are my brothers.”
Brown has two years remaining on his six-year, $53.4 million contract that included $22.081 million guaranteed, a $12.5 million signing bonus, and average annual compensation of $8.95 million.
Although the Texans need Brown in their starting lineup, they have traditionally refused to renegotiate contracts with two remaining years. The two exceptions to that style of business: defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver Andre Johnson, arguably the best two players in franchise history. The Texans aren’t expected to change their stance and renegotiate Brown’s contract at this time.
Filling in the gaps
With Brown absent, the Texans have started Kendall Lamm at left tackle and have veteran Chris Clark available as a swing tackle. But the Texans have relied heavily on Brown’s leadership as much as his blocking skills over the years.
“I feel good about our tackle situation,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ve had these guys around for a while. Duane hasn’t been here for a long time. I think everybody knows how I feel about Duane. Look, he’s doing what he believes is the best for him, and we’re coaching the guys that are here.”
O’Brien was noncommittal when asked how long Brown would need to get ready once he reports.
“You’d have to ask him that,” O’Brien said. “I have no idea.”
Brown has remained in Los Angeles this offseason and has maintained a diligent workout regimen. He appeared to be in his usual condition.
“I’m always in shape,” Brown said. “I’m in shape year-round, 24/7, 365. So I’m just working out, doing what I have to do. When I’m out there, I’ll handle my business.”
Roughly 1,000 people attended the event, enjoying the barbecue from Triple-J’s, listening to music and the words of City Councilman Jerry Davis, and interacting with Brown and his wife, a former 93.7 The Beat radio personality who’s done television work for BET.
“It hurts me to my heart seeing what happened to the city,” Brown said. “I’ve been here for a decade, so I feel like a Houstonian and part of the fabric here. Seeing what people were going through, it’s only right to give back and put a smile on people’s faces. This is a very resilient town.”