The MLB trade deadline isn’t the only hot topic across the sports industry. As the dog days of summer approach and later conclude, big paydays arrive during NFL training camp. The Houston Texans are the latest team to make a splash towards their roster, this time, on defense. They have reached an agreement with inside linebacker Zach Cunningham to a 4-year, $58 million extension.
Cunningham was entering the fourth year of his $4.47 million rookie contract that includes $2.06 guaranteed. In his new deal, Cunningham will earn an average of $14.5 million per year, and $32.5 million guaranteed for solely injury, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Vanderbilt product is coming off a strong 2019 season, leading the Texans and AFC with 142 tackles, 10 for loss. In 43 starts, he has 339 total tackles, 15 for loss, and is entering his fourth season. The 25-year old played just under 87.5 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps last season, due to his hard-hitting style and ability to slash at an angle.
Slashing at an angle is an essential key for a defensive player’s success because it makes it harder for the lineman to block them and makes a defensive coordinator’s life easier since it’ll be easier for that player to beat out lineman or drop back in cover in zone packages.
In 2019, he was the NFL’s leader in run stop rate, according to Pro Football Focus. Cunningham does struggle with pass coverage, despite his speed and agility. However, he does make up lost ground quickly due to his speed.
The Texans are scheduled to kick off the 2020 season in a Thursday night Primetime battle against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
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