The Houston Texans announced the signing of outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus on a four-year deal that will keep him from hitting free agency. The reported deal is worth $54 million, with $28.5 guaranteed to keep one of their well-respected players in Mercilus in the organization.
The Texans operating under head coach Bill O'Brien'sO'Brien's guidance made it clear they wanted to keep Mercilus and were willing to complete contracts during the regular season.
The Rundown on the Return of Whitney Mercilus
Middle of the Pack for Mercilus
The contract that Mercilus landed will pay him $13.5 APY, which lands him 16th overall in edge players across the NFL. Mercilus is labeled as an outside linebacker, but he plays that and defensive end in the Texans defense.
With him playing the "Jack" position, Mercilus is a hybrid player, and his contract shows that as well. More important is the structure of Mercilus deal with $28.5 guaranteed and how it is spread out through the life of the contract.
No Choice But To Bring Back Mercilus
The Texans continue to flirt with danger in the pass rush department. The Texans ran off Jadeveon Clowney and then lost J.J. Watt for the bulk of the season due to his pectoral injury, which left Mercilus as their only option off the edge.
This season Mercilus has pass rushed on 585 snaps producing 33 hurries, 7.5 sacks, 15 QB hits. He has affected the quarterback every 11.9 snap he is on the field rushing the passer.
After a hot start to the season, teams started concentrating on Mercilus with the game plan to slow him down.
The Texans could not afford to go into the off-season with one of their most significant position needs with an even more prominent absence without Mercilus. With Jacob Martin and Duke Ejiofor back next season, the Texans need more help, and losing one of their most reliable edge players does not help to head into the coming seasons.
One of the biggest teams needs heading into the off-season remains improving the pass rush and bringing back Mercilus' does not solve any problems in that area but it keeps them from creating a bigger hole at the position.
Keeping the Foundation Together
One thing that Bill O'BrienO'Brien values are the locker room and Mercilus is part of a foundation that he has put together since he arrived in 2014. O'BrienO'Brien appreciates players that put the team first, do what the coaches ask of them, and continue to bring a steady play to the field in the process.
Mercilus has been that type of player for the Texans being asked to play out of position in 2018, and he never once complained just continued to do his job.
Unprompted after the win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, O'BrienO'Brien made it clear that he wanted Mercilus part of the roster moving into 2020.
"Whitney is a hard worker," O'BrienO'Brien explained after the Texans'Texans' win in Tampa. "I mean, you guys know. Whitney works very hard puts a lot of time, and it's so important to him. He is here early in the morning, and he stays late. He tries to do whatever he can to do what's best for the team. He'sHe's an excellent teammate."
"We want Whitney back," O'BrienO'Brien continued on Mercilus. "We want Whitney back here, and we want him to be a part of our team for a while. So it was, it was good. It was good to see him breakthrough with a sack, but he does a lot of other things other than that you know that help us win."
O'Brien and Senior VP of Football Administration Chris Olsen made it work with Mercilus keeping him in house.
Mercilus Continues to Produce
In 2019, Mercilus has 48 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions through 15 games. He has set career highs in forced fumbles and interceptions this season alone.
Mercilus' 7.5 sacks give him 50.0 in his Texans'Texans' career, which ranks him third in franchise history, only trailing J.J. Watt (96.0) and Mario Williams (53.0). They are the only trio in Texans history with over 50.0 sacks.
Since 2015, Mercilus leads the NFL in postseason sacks with 6.0 in four games. Also, he ranks tied for third in tackles for loss (7) and tied for fourth (9) in quarterback hits during that stretch.
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