Houston, Texas- Head coach Bill O'Brien made it clear last week that the Houston Texans wanted Whitney Mercilus back in the fold heading into the 2020 season. With Mercilus set to be a free agent at the end of the season, O'Brien went against the grain of an organizational trend of no extensions during the season and locked up Mercilus to a four-year deal preventing him from hitting free agency. 

The move has caught the attention of players inside the locker room and opened the door for the organization to retain its talent before competing against the open market. 

O'Brien was more than pleased keeping Mercilus around the organization and a foundational presence on the roster. 

"I think it's always a good thing when you have guys in your locker room that are smart, tough, and dependable, and they get rewarded for that," O'Brien said of Mercilus. "I think one of the things we're trying to do is get some guys done before free agency starts, and there's a number of guys that we think are guys that have futures with us, and those are two examples, and it was good getting something done."

"Just gives me peace of mind to just go out there to go play and all that," Mercilus said of his new deal. "So happy, I'm very happy about it. Franchise believes in me. Very thankful for that."

Surprised by the slight change in the Texans' stance to get contracts done during the season, Mercilus and the organization came were going back and forth regarding his deal. One quick phone call to Mercilus from his agent Todd France late last week made it a reality that the Texans wanted to keep their homegrown player before others had a chance to get a crack at the veteran pass rusher. 

Mercilus feels the contract the Texans extended to him shows the organization's stance on keeping their core players together that have been producing. 

"One of their models, philosophy, as far as taking care of one of their own, especially guys who perform well for them," Mercilus said of the deal. "So, it reflects that."

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