Texans extend center Nick Martin

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The Texans have been working on improving Deshaun Watson‘s protection for some time.

Now, they’re rewarding the guy in the middle of that line.

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Texans have signed center Nick Martin to a three-year, $33 million contract extension. The deal includes $18.35 million in guarantees.

The 2016 second-rounder missed his rookie year with an ankle injury, but has started since then, and the deal puts him among the top earners at his position.

The hope is they have a group which can keep Watson upright for years to come. After trading for left tackle Laremy Tunsil and drafting Tytus Howard and Max Scharping this year (even though they’re not starting yet), they hope they’re closer.

The Texans gave up a league-high 62 sacks last year, and a league-high six in Week One.