Houston Texans: Duane Brown hurting team by holding out

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Duane Brown
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16: Duane Brown /

The Houston Texans offensive line has few strong players and one of them, offensive tackle Duane Brown, is sitting out from training camp.

Few position groups are as important as the five men who line up along the offensive line. The Houston Texans are already struggling to find a solid five men to rely upon and that became harder with offensive tackle Duane Brown’s decision to skip the start of training camp (per ESPN).

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Already regarded as one of the weakest offensive lines in the NFL (fourth from the bottom per Pro Football Focus’ preseason rankings), the Texans need everyone to work together to be greater than the sum of their parts. Brown is the only above average player that unit could rely upon to lead them forward as a group. Without him, the entire unit suffers.

With a suffering offensive line, there is little hope for quarterbacks Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson to make much of an impact. The running game could predictably suffer as well.

It is rare for one offensive lineman to have an out-sized impact by failing to report to training camp, but it happens occasionally. Brown knows his value — a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All Pro — in this situation is at an all-time high. The Texans literally cannot afford to be without him.

While he has already hit a de-escalator clause in his contract costing him $250,000 for missing a requisite number of workouts (per ESPN) and he can be fined $40,000 per day during training camp, Brown could try to leverage his way to more money if this becomes an elongated holdout.

This is far from ideal for the Texans. Caught between the need for Brown to lead the offensive line and a cap situation that led to jettisoning quarterback Brock Osweiler this offseason, the Texans may find themselves with their hands tied. That is hardly what NFL teams want as they enter training camp and prepare for the season.

While things look okay for next year, the Texans have to be careful there they invest as young players come of age. A 32-year old offensive tackle may not be the best investment unless the team is fully committed to winning now.

Next: NFL Power Rankings 2017: Training camp edition

While this is probably the right move for Brown (possibly his last big contract extension), skipping training camp in this manner is holding his team hostage. The Texans should deal fairly with Brown and get him back in the fold as quickly as possible. The playoff and Super Bowl window is only open for so long and the offense is what holds the team back. Without Brown there is a slippery slope to irrelevance even in the weak AFC South.