Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Texans Exercising Tytus Howard's 5th Year Option

Tytus Howard
Tytus Howard Photo by Jack Gorman
Continuity has been scarce for the Houston Texans over the last two years. If you were a player drafted by Rick Smith or Brian Gaine, or even one tangentially attached to Bill O'Brien's brief era as general manager, either through the draft or free agency, chances are you're playing somewhere else these days.

Over the last month or so, though, things have begun to solidify a bit over on Kirby. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil reworked his contract to where it appears he will be a Texan for a couple more seasons. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks signed a two year extension, locking him in through 2024. The draft this past weekend brought in several new building blocks that are generating a ton of excitement, and following that trend, it appears as though the Texans are locking in another building block for at least one additional season.

As first reported by Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Texans are exercising the fifth year option on Tytus Howard's rookie contract, locking the offensive lineman in through the end of the 2023 season:

Overall, I think this is a positive move for the Texans, and very positive for Howard, who was drafted by Brian Gaine in 2019, and has survived (including interims) four GM's, four head coaches, and three position coaches. Here are my thoughts on this latest move from the Texans.

This should bring some stability to the offensive line, which i hope is a good thing
Last year, as the season was winding down under the comical leadership of David Culley, Howard was floundering at left guard, and Tunsil was basically sitting out the remainder of the season in what felt like a soft protest of everything the Texans were doing. The offensive line was a joke. Fast forward to this week, and now it seems like Tunsil is reengaged with the team (a good thing, since he is, by far, their heftiest earner), Howard seems like he has solidified his spot at right tackle (NOT GUARD!), and the team has really fortified the interior with first round pick Kenyon Green, who should start at guard on Day One. Dare I say, could we finally be right when we say that the offensive line might be a strength of this team in 2022? Stay tuned!

This reverses a trend of mass exodus (temporarily, at least)
We mentioned above all of the churn that has gone on with this roster. After the trade of Deshaun Watson, and the exit of Justin Reid and Jordan Akins in free agency, this team is left with exactly ZERO players drafted before 2019. With Howard and guard Max Scharping the only remaining 2019 draft picks — and with Scharping fighting to make the team in 2022 — hanging onto Howard was almost a symbolic necessity, that the team views SOMETHING pre-Caserio as worth keeping. Now, Howard needs to back up the team's faith in him.

This will be the last time a fifth year option will matter for a while
The fifth year option on a player's rookie contract is something hat is only applicable to first round draft choices. If you are an NFL player drafted in the second through seventh rounds of the draft, you become an unrestricted free agent after four seasons. For what it's worth, the fifth year option on rookie first rounders has been in place since 2011, and the Texans have either exercised the fifth year option or granted a full contract extension to all of their first round picks since 2011. (Worth noting, they rescinded Kevin Johnson's fifth year option before the 2019 season.) The Texans, though, will not have to worry about the fifth year option decisions for another three full years, as they had no first round picks in 2020 or 2021. Thanks O'Brien!

This is what depressing "fifth year option" news looks like
Maybe you're somebody that didn't want the Texans to exercise their fifth year option on Howard. There is a viable argument for that. Regardless of where you fall on the enthusiasm scale about Tytus Howard, just know that Howard returning for a fifth season in 2023 is far from the most depressing fifth year option news in this cycle of 2019 first rounders. Behold, the Raiders!
Three first round picks, three complete busts. You might say "Well, Sean, these things all come back around, so how did they do the next draft in 2020?" They had two first round picks in 2020, and drafted WR Henry Ruggs, who killed a woman in a DUI accident this past fall, and drafted CB Damon Arnette, who was cut weeks after Ruggs' car accident for waving guns on social media and threatening to kill some dude.

The Jon Gruden Era, everybody!

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast