One of the key offseason contract negotiations to take place for the Houston Texans over the coming weeks will be with Pro Bowl center Chris Myers. From a player standpoint, and this is by no means disrespectful to Myers, his deal probably rates third in importance to the franchise, behind quarterback destroyer Mario Williams and defensive shredder Arian Foster.
There seems to be some concern by fans that the Texans can’t sign all three, forgetting that Mario’s 2011 cap hit was excessively high and you could get a deal where he’s not making the per-year amount as last year. I digress and come back to Mr. Myers...after the jump.
According to Spotrac.com, Myers had a cap hit of $3.5 million in 2011, good for ninth among centers. This number is significant since he's already being paid as one of the top centers in the league, but, for the sake of his new contract, you have to compare him to the two highest-paid centers – New York’s Nick Mangold and Carolina’s Ryan Kalil.
Mangold signed an 8-year/$57.4 million in 2010, and Kalil inked a 6-year/$49 million contract in 2011. More importantly, they have $25 and $28 million dollars guaranteed. With veterans, this guaranteed number matters considerably more since they can be cut at any time. While Myers is a bona-fide top-three center, he won’t draw near as much money as Kalil and Mangold.
For starters, Myers turns 31 when the new season starts, whereas those two signed the deals as 26-year olds. Myers also is a system-specific center. He is smaller and works best in the zone-blocking scheme, as opposed to a traditional line or a power-heavy line. Really, the only potential competition would come from Seattle or Washington, and Myers probably won’t go to a team rebuilding when he has five or six years left to contribute to a winning team. The leverage is really in Houston’s hands in this negotiation.
Of course, the Texans will not screw Myers. They will do right by him because he has been loyal to the deep steel blue and earned his worth. That is the kind of organization Bob McNair is running. Still, I feel, due to the reasons pointed out, that the deal will not be astronomical. Under no known circumstance can I logically see it approaching those levels.
I would peg Myers' new deal in the neighborhood of 5-years for $25-30 million dollars with $18-20 million guaranteed. The center formerly known as Ragdoll will get his raise, his important guaranteed total, and Houston avoids breaking the cap and locking themselves in a bad deal since Myers should be effective into his mid-30s, as most top centers (Kevin Mawae, Jeff Saturday, and Olin Kuertz being recent examples) have shown to be.
Mario Williams had a cap hit of $15.1 million in 2011. If you simply do a deal and bring that down to $9-10 million a year, as a dart-at-the-dartboard guess, you can easily cover any raise in Myers’ contract and have cash left over to help with Arian’s deal, when you couple it with cutting Matt Leinart and having other contracts, like Jason Allen’s, come off the book. Houston can have all three, and it is all doable when you think about it.