Texans retain OT Derek Newton, an important piece for their future

HOUSTON -- From a team perspective, when you've put in the time to see an offensive lineman grow and develop, you want to reap the benefits.

We aren't so far removed from the time when many were calling for Newton to be benched -- replaced in free agency or the draft. Newton did struggle during that 2013 season and it didn't help that he was hampered by a knee injury that year. Healthy in 2014, new Texans coach Bill O'Brien believed in Newton and that belief paid off.

Last season, according to Pro Football Focus, Newton rated as one of the best run-blocking linemen in the league. He'd always been decent against the run. His pass-blocking also improved.

This deal rewarded that growth. It gives him $10 million in guarantees with more than $13 million in the first two years. It's a better deal in many ways than the one Dallas gave to Doug Free, the tackle they re-signed this morning. That deal was agreed upon while the Texans were negotiating Newton's deal, helping set a framework for Newton.

Though Newton's agents fielded a few calls from other teams, this is where Newton wanted to continue his career. It's a great move for both sides and one they worked to get done.

As it stands, the Texans' offensive line figures to be (from left to right) Duane Brown, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Ben Jones, Brandon Brooks and Newton. It's a strong group, should they all play like they're capable.

Still on the clock: cornerback Kareem Jackson, quarterback Ryan Mallett. More on them later.