Zach Cunningham has agreed to terms on a payday worthy of the state of Texas.
The Houston Texans have inked the standout linebacker to a four-year, $58 million extension worth $14.5M per year in new money average, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Sunday, via sources informed of the deal.
The club confirmed the signing on Monday. Cunningham was set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
A second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2017, Cunningham made his age-25 season his best in 2019, racking up 142 tackles, two sacks and two passes defensed in 16 starts. Over the past three seasons, he has tallied 339 tackles, 13 PDs and 3.5 sacks. He also has proven useful on special teams, playing 412 snaps since entering the league.
It didn't take long for the former All-American to earn a reputation as a fearsome defender. He started 16 games his rookie season after veteran Brian Cushing was suspended for 10 games. Cunningham remained in a starting role after Cushing retired the following year and never looked back.
Alongside vets Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney, both of whom have signed extensions in 2018 and 2019, respectively, Cunningham comprises one of the league's most formidable LB trios. That unit will continue to make life difficult for opposing offenses in the years to come.