Seven years ago, Laremy Tunsil was in the middle of a chaotic night. Ten minutes before the 2016 NFL Draft, a video got posted to Tunsil’s Twitter account that showed him wearing a gas mask and smoking from a bong. An Instagram post from Tunsil’s account also shared a screenshot of a text conversation between Tunsil and Ole Miss athletic director John Miller. In the text exchange, Tunsil was requesting money so he could pay rent and his mother could afford her electric bill.
Tunsil and his agent both claimed the accounts were hacked. Yet the video, in particular, was enough to scare off some NFL teams. Tunsil, who was regarded as perhaps the top player in the draft, ended up sliding from the 6th overall selection down to the 13th, where the Miami Dolphins finally drafted him. The difference in rookie contracts between those two picks was $8 million. Tunsil could have signed a four-year deal worth north of $20 million. Instead, he settled for $12.45 million.
Though Tunsil started out his career costing himself money, he’s more than made up for it with his play on the field — and his business savvy.
The Dolphins traded Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Houston Texans in 2019. The Texans gave up three high draft picks to acquire Tunsil but didn’t get him to commit to a deal before doing so. Tunsil made the Pro Bowl for the first time that year and entered the 2020 offseason with all kinds of leverage.
He agreed to a three-year, $66 million extension with $57.85 million guaranteed. Tunsil became the highest-paid offensive lineman in terms of average annual value and set a new standard within the market. And he opted for a contract of modest length, which gave him more financial flexibility.
After two more Pro Bowl appearances in 2020 and 2022, Tunsil hit free agency this year. Once again, he scored a huge payday.
Tunsil re-signed with the Texans for $75 million over three years. Much like his last deal, he reset the market for offensive linemen. He also stayed with his current team — which knows how good he is and can utilize his strengths. And he put himself in a great position for another massive deal in three years when he’ll only be 31 years old.
Sure, Tunsil may have lost out on $8 million on draft night. But since then, he’s secured more than $150 million over his NFL career, with more likely to come in the future. That’s a terrific comeback story.