The Houston Texans are clearly in year one of a long-term rebuilding plan. General manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley appear to be utilizing the remaining games on their schedule to analyze and evaluate their young players.
Part of the process includes making difficult decisions regarding players that have given the franchise their all throughout the years. Caserio made one of those decisions earlier this week by releasing 31-year-old defensive end Whitney Mercilus.
Mercilus’ release opens up the door for more playing time for sophomore defensive end Jonathan Greenard, who is currently playing the best football of his young career. The former Florida standout has recorded an impressive four sacks in six games thus far and will play an even more prominent role going forward.
Mercilus called his release from the Texans, “mutual,” and stated that he wants to play for a Super Bowl contender. With that in mind, here are three teams that could be the first to inquire about securing Mercilus’ services.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs need to leave no stone unturned when it comes to fixing their defense and have reportedly already expressed interest in Mercilus. Even after an impressive Week 6 performance that saw them give up just 13 points and under 300 total yards of offense, the Chiefs still rank bottom five in yards allowed per game (410.5) and points allowed per contest (29.3)
The Chiefs have received little in the form of production from their star defensive linemen. Chris Jones and Frank Clark have struggled with injuries while performing well below their respected expectations. The Chiefs are at a crossroads at 3-3 with little margin for error. Bringing in Mercilus would upgrade a group that badly needs improving.
On the surface, Tennessee makes a ton of sense as a destination. Head coach Mike Vrabel coached Mercilus for four years as the Texans’ linebackers coach before eventually being promoted to the defensive coordinator role. When Vrabel left Houston for Tennessee, he brought several coaches along with him. All in all, Mercilus has played for multiple coaches on the Titans’ current staff, including defensive coordinator Shane Bowen.
There’s more than familiarity here. Tennessee is actively hurting on their defensive line. Prized free-agent signing Bud Dupree is still getting his legs under him as he’s struggled to recover from last season’s ACL injury. Dupree’s slow start has left the Titans rather thin on the defensive line and overly reliant on the likes of Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons.
Mercilus was quick to heap praise on Vrabel when he left Houston for Tennessee.
“I showed flashes during my first two seasons,” Mercilus said. “I didn’t really understand the game in terms of what a formational set might be, personnel, things of that nature. Once Vrabel got here, he handed the linebackers more responsibilities. Vrabel really helped me become the player I am today.”
With the Titans well in pole position in the AFC South, Tennessee might check off Mercilus’ contender box as well.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Always considered a strong candidate to win the NFC, the Packers would certainly make sense from a contention point of view. They’ve already shown a willingness to make in-season additions this season after adding free-agent linebacker Jaylon Smith following his release from the Dallas Cowboys.
The Packers have performed admirably on the defensive side of the ball this season, but Mercilus would provide quality depth for a front seven that’s dealing with injuries to Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The likes of La’Darius Hamilton and Jonathan Garvin have stepped up in recent weeks, but Mercilus would add some quality depth to a team that could benefit from his veteran presence.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022