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Texans reward Whitney Mercilus with $26M extension

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The Houston Texans have patiently waited for Whitney Mercilus to develop into a consistent pass-rusher since taking him in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. After steady improvement, the Texans are ready to make a long-term commitment.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the team agreed to a four-year extension with Mercilus worth $26 million on Monday, with $10.5 million guaranteed, according to a source informed of the deal. Tania Ganguli of ESPN first reported the news; the Texans officially announced the signing later.

Mercilus has 18 sacks in three seasons, although we wouldn't call him a consistent pass-rusher. He improved in his third season as a run defender and is a known quantity on the outside at a position for Houston that has a lot of young talent.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and this year's second-round pick Benardrick McKinney will also play huge roles on the Texans' defense, although each has a different skill set. McKinney will start his career playing inside linebacker.

The contract is not a shock because general manager Rick Smith has talked up Mercilus as an ascending player who the team wanted to keep around. Then again, the move wasn't necessarily easy to see coming because Mercilus has been up-and-down as a player since entering the league. Much like Kareem Jackson, another Houston first-rounder, Mercilus has overcome a poor first impression.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down the 2015 NFL Draft, picking out the biggest winners and losers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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