The Texans are expected to exercise their 2023 fifth-year club option for starting offensive lineman Tytus Howard, according to league sources.
The additional year is a fully guaranteed $13.2 million.
He started 11 games at left guard and four games at left tackle last season for the AFC South franchise.
The 2019 first-round draft pick from Alabama State has started all 37 games he's played in for the Texans. He has lined up everywhere from his natural right tackle position to left tackle and left guard. Howard is likely to play right tackle, but the Texans have options after drafting Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green in the first round. Texans general manager Nick Caserio said during the NFL draft that Green's best position is likely as an interior blocker.
A former high school quarterback and walk-on who gained 100 pounds to emerge as an NFL draft prospect and Senior Bowl all-star game standout, Howard is a former all-rookie selection.
At 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, Howard plays the game with aggressiveness, physicality and a growing understanding of how to best harness his power into blocking strategies.
"Tytus Howard, he can play tackle, he can play guard," Texans coach Lovie Smith said recently "The more things you can do, absolutely, the more valuable you are to us and for your stock in general. I think if you have your profile right and you are picking big athletes, small athletes, guys that with a certain skillset, they can do more than one thing. So, that’s definitely the case.”
A former starting right tackle, Howard stepped into a position of need last season with two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil sidelined on injured reserve after undergoing thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament.
"First off, you have a player that is a team guy where it doesn’t matter, like Tytus," Smith said. "Our conversations, ‘Where do I need to play to help the football team?’ We have two outstanding coaches (offensive line coaches George Warhop and Hal Hunter) that have been doing it for a long time with a great coordinator (Pep Hamilton).
"We will figure it all out. I’ll just tell you he will be out on the field somewhere. Talk about those big athletes? He’s a big athlete. If we had five guys like that, we would be pretty happy. If this is a problem, we like this problem that we have.”
At 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, Howard has the requisite size, strength, athleticism and nasty temperament to play tackle.
Originally signed to a four-year, $12.225 million rookie contract, Howard said he anticipates a hard-nosed approach from Hamilton.
“I think the mentality of the offensive line with coach George Warhop, we’re going to be way more physical," Howard said. "Nothing against our past coach, but I think we’re going to be physical up front. I think with Pep, his offense, we pride on being able to run the football. We didn’t run the football well last year, so I look forward to being able to run the ball real well every game.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and analyst and a contributor to Sports Talk 790.