The Texans want tackle Duane Brown to return. Soon, he could be.
Under the precedent created a generation ago in the Joey Galloway case, the window will soon open for Brown to return to the Texans, if he’s concerned about getting credit for the current year of his contract and working his way toward free agency after the 2018 season. Put simply, Brown needs to play in eight games in order to comfortably fit within the parameters of the Galloway ruling.
Given the possibility of a roster exemption that would cover as long as three weeks, Brown needs to return after Week Six. The bye week in Week Seven, the seventh game in Week Eight, and the eighth game in Week Nine would potentially be lost to the exemption. Then, Brown would be available for the final eight games of the year.
So if Brown is going to return in order to get credit for the season and if he’s concerned about the Texans throwing a wrench into his plans via the use of a roster exemption (which would also keep them from using him until the exemption is lifted), he needs to return after Week Six in order to definitely fall within the scope of the Galloway ruling. Brown also could try to play fewer than eight games and make the same argument Galloway made; however, Brown would be risking a finding that playing fewer than eight games prevents him from satisfying the 2017 year of his contract.
Then there’s the lingering possibility of a trade. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Texans want to keep Brown on the team. However, they would potentially consider an appropriate offer, if some other team makes an appropriate offer before the deadline coming on the Tuesday after Week Eight.
Given the timeline, it’s possible that Brown returns after Week Six and a trade offer comes before the Tuesday after Week Eight. Any team that trades for Browns presumably would want to have a new deal in place as he comes through the door, however.