Former Commodore Linebacker Looking to get Paid in NFL

Greg Arias

When the Houston Texans selected Zach Cunningham with the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, they were banking on the potential of their second-round pick. 

Now four years later, the former Vanderbilt star is preparing to enter the final year of his rookie contract after earning Pro-Bowl accolades in 2019, where he found himself as an alternate for the AFC team. 

He's also looking to get paid and seems poised to do so if he can put together another season like his last. In that season, the Pinson, Al. native recorded 142 total tackles, 99 solo, 2.0 sacks, two pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries for the Texans.

Cunningham will cash in somewhere, either with the Texans or in free agency, and he will be deserving of it. 

Since arriving in the league, Cunningham has been nothing short of spectacular in his play, adapting quickly to the style of play and moving from a backup to a starter and now a leader on the defense. 

Aaron Wilson, of the Houston Chronicle, wrote this about Cunningham in a recent article.   

"With a hard-hitting style and crisp pursuit angles, Cunningham is a fixture on the Texans' defense. The former second-round draft pick from Vanderbilt played 87.47 percent (942 total) of the defensive snaps last season. He was named as a Pro Bowl alternate last season after leading the AFC with 142 tackles along with ten tackles for losses."

Precisely what kind of money might Cunningham be in line to earn?

While it's hard to say with absolute certainty, recent signings around the league suggest that it could fall somewhere between $13-$17 million range. Not a bad payday if you ask me. 

Pro Football Focus, who tracks stats from every possible angle credit Cunningham as one of the top four linebackers in run stops in 2019 Cunningham topped the list with 47 for the season, which shows just how productive he has become.   

The Commodores have seen more players entering the NFL in recent years, but Cunningham might be the best of them all. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven. 

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