Whitney Mercilus being a free agent should immediately move many NFL teams to action.
On Monday, the Houston Texans released veteran pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus, who has collected three sacks this season, was cut as part of the Texans’ attempt to create a more youthful team.
Mercilus still has quite a bit left to give to any team who picks him up. Currently playing his 10th NFL season, he can provide a defensive line rotation piece that will be not only reliable but also productive. He does not miss tackles, he shoots past offensive tackles and, in a proper system, could return to his elite past.
Many teams should be immediately interested in bringing Whitney Mercilus into the locker room to help their pass rush.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Recent rumors suggest that the Chargers are looking to add pieces to their defensive line in season, and for good reason. Los Angeles has given up the most rushing yards in the league, trailing the next closest team, the Houston Texans, by over 100 yards. They also are eighth in the league in missed tackles.
A concern for bringing in Mercilus is that the Chargers already have tremendous talent on the edges of their line. Joey Bosa is a multiple-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler. However, Mercilus can provide the much-needed rotation that can help the Chargers get Bosa some rest and keep him healthy later into the season.
2. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts should be panicking about how their season is going thus far. A team with as much talent as Indianapolis should not be 2-4.
Their defensive line has been underwhelming with the pass rush, ranking just 21st in pass rush win rate (40 percent) according to ESPN. This is why the Colts have given up the second-most passing touchdowns and 11th most passing yards despite seeing the 12th fewest passing attempts from opposing teams.
Whitney Mercilus does not immediately fix the Colts’ issues, but he is a great place to start. His presence alone will help DeForest Buckner stop seeing as many double and triple teams. His rotation will give Darius Leonard more mobility in the scheme. Plus, the long-term effects of having him around can only be positive for the rookie Kwity Paye, even if it would limit the first-year pro’s snaps.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs defense is statistically one of the worst in NFL history. They are dead last in sacks, yards per play, and the AFC West standings. In almost every other category, Kansas City falls among at least the bottom 10 defenses.
The Chiefs at this point should be kicking the tires on every available defensive player. However, Whitney Mercilus might be the exact medicine that this defense needs to get the ship right.
Firstly, his ability to put pressure on the quarterback will help relieve a bit of the pressure that the Chiefs’ secondary has to deal with every single week. Secondly, his ability to rotate in and out, giving Frank Clark and Mike Danna rests and giving defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo opportunities to change the personnel can only be a good thing.
Finally, it will help the Chiefs on third down. Mercilus being able to slide into Chris Jones’ defensive end spot, pushing Jones back to the middle on third down while still providing the same level of pressure from the end spot is exactly what the Chiefs need right now. The Chiefs give up the fourth-highest third-down conversion rate, largely because they can not get pressure on the quarterback, especially when Jones moves inside.
The Chiefs have a tight cap situation, but if the money is right, and Mercilus is willing to give this defense a try, then the Chiefs should certainly take a flier on the veteran.