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If Texans dig in, Duane Brown holdout could last a while

Duane Brown has one piece of leverage over the Houston Texans: holding out.

The Texans reacted to the Duane Brown holdout for a new contract by pretending that he’s not holding out for a new contract. If they continue that posture, Duane Brown may be holding out for a while.

There is no contract dispute,” G.M. Rick Smith said Tuesday. “Duane is under contract for two more years. That’s our position.”

Brown is a vested veteran, so he won’t lose a year toward free agency by failing to show up within 30 days of the regular-season opener. Also, and as we explained a couple of years ago in the context of first-round picks in the fifth year of their contracts, the Joey Galloway ruling from a generation ago allows a player under contract to miss up to eight regular-season games without having his contract tolled.

Thus, Brown can skip all of training camp, all of the preseason, pay the fines, give up eight game checks, return for the back half of the 2017 season, repeat the process in 2018, and become a free agent in 2019.

“But he signed a contract!” you may say. Sure he did. And the same system that allows a team to rip up a contract whenever it wants allows the player to incur fines, miss up to eight game checks, and get credit for the year under that contract.

It will be easy for the pundits to claim that Brown eventually will cave. That may be the case. But he’s skipped the full offseason program, he remains dug in, and if the team is going to act like it’s not a contract issue because he has a contract, it may still be a while before Brown shows up.