Zach Cunningham just made bank on his Houston Texans’ contract extension.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “The Texans and standout linebacker Zach Cunningham have agreed to terms on a huge new extension worth $14.5 million per year in new money average. Big payday for a rising star, a deal negotiated by Athletes First led by Kyle McCarthy.”
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, “Texans have been working on deals for Zach Cunningham and Deshaun Watson. Only Watson left after Cunningham’s four-year, $58 million deal done today.” With Cunningham getting a four-year deal, how soon should we expect a Deshaun Watson extension coming down the pipeline in Houston? Bill O’Brien is making moves.
Zach Cunningham has the talent to be the next face of the Texans’ defense.
Eventually, defensive end J.J. Watt will no longer be the superstar on the defensive side of the ball for Houston. He can still be a productive player in his early 30s, but his time as NFL Defensive Player of the Year may be a thing of the past. Houston decided to look internally and see who could be the next star for them. It might be ahead of the curve, but they really like Cunningham.
Coming out of Vanderbilt University in 2017, Cunningham was garnering late, first-round consideration. While he went to the Texans in the second round, he and Watson have helped make that 2017 class one of massive significance for Houston football. Watson is already the best quarterback in franchise history and Cunningham may have Pro Bowl nods on the horizon for him.
Even if he’s not a superstar like Watson or Watt are for Houston, the Texans know what they’re getting out of Cunningham. He starred in the SEC, often making college football fans turn their heads and say, “Who is that guy on Vanderbilt?” Cunningham is a winning player who would have been a top-tier free agent had he hit the unrestricted market next spring. Houston did well here.
For now, the Texans will need to look from within to find enough strength internally to three-peat in the AFC South and win the division for the fifth time in six years. Though the Jacksonville Jaguars are rebuilding, the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans both give off the vibe of being AFC playoff teams. Cunningham and company will be asked to hold them off this season.
The Texans made a smart move to keep one of their defensive players in house in Cunningham.