The Houston Texans are waiving 2020 NFL tackles leader Zach Cunningham, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. The two parties had agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $58 million in August 2020.
Cunningham, 26, recorded 67 total tackles, one forced fumble and three pass deflections in 10 games this season. He has missed two games, which equaled his total from the previous four seasons combined. The Vanderbilt product was a healthy scratch in Week 13 against the Colts. A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Cunningham graded out as the No. 52 linebacker in the league, according to PFF.
In each of the past three seasons, he has eclipsed the 100 total tackle mark, including an NFL-leading 164 tackles in 2020.
Texans coach David Culley disciplined Cunningham a few times this season.
"We have standards," Culley said, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. "I didn't feel like those standards were being met consistently. It wasn't tough at all (to waive Cunningham). It's about the team. It's not about one individual player."
Cunningham will go on waivers where teams, in order of worst record to best, will have the opportunity to claim him at the rate of his current contract; $900,000 for the remainder of the season. It is likely that he goes unclaimed and becomes an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any team he chooses. Houston is on the hook for a roughly $12.8 million salary cap hit next season as a result of the move.
The Texans (2-10) are currently in position to draft No. 3 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. They have games remaining against the Seahawks, Jaguars, Chargers, 49ers and Titans. The Jaguars currently hold the No. 2 overall pick, so there will be high stakes in Duval County on Dec. 19.
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