This was our lead Way We Hear It item in our training camp opening issue in mid-July:
“Veteran holdouts in the National Football League are often much ado about nothing. According to our sources in Houston the current standoff between the Houston Texans and left tackle Duane Brown isn’t one of those.
"Brown wants more money and so far the Texans haven’t budged.
"This much is certain, even the current version of Brown is one of the NFL’s better left tackles on an offensive line that features little else resembling star power.
"The Texans can still be contenders this year but their window isn’t exactly opening wider these days and may in fact be closing a bit with all the free agency defections on defense and J.J. Watt’s balky back.
"Brown is clearly serious and we’re hearing the Texans are concerned they may have to blink first.”
Neither side has blinked yet, but after a Texans' line sans Brown yielded 10 sacks to the Jaguars in their season opener — 4 to Calais Campbell himself — we hear desperation may be setting in.
Left guard Jeff Allen, arguably the Texans' best blocker after Brown, will miss at least this Sunday’s trip to Cincinnati with a bum ankle, and center Nick Martin will be questionable with a gimpy ankle as well.
According to sources close to him, Brown is anxious to get back on the field but still believes he deserves a new deal and can see that, to whatever extent leverage matters in these standoffs, it has all shifted to him.
Not only is the Texans line awful right now without Brown and injuries settling in, the Tom Savage era appears to be over and nothing is more concerning to NFL coaches than trying to develop a rookie quarterback like DeShaun Watson without being able to protect him.
As one rival AFC general manager told PFW, “I really feel for [Texans GM] Rick Smith because we all know you never want to give in on veteran holdouts because of the horrible precedents it sets, but in this case he’s risking a playoff run and the development of a young quarterback he paid dearly for if he doesn’t come up with answers soon.”
Normally we’d say there are never any winners in situations like this, but in this case we’re hearing the smart money is all starting to move toward Brown.