Zach Cunningham will be a Texans linebacker for quite a bit longer.
Drafted in 2017 in the second round, Cunningham signed a contract extension with the team on Monday morning. In 2019, he led the Texans and the AFC in tackles with 142. A key member of the Texans defense at inside linebacker, Cunningham was elated to put pen to paper.
"It definitely meant a lot to me," Cunningham said. "Just when I got word back that we finally got the deal done just very excited. A lot of – to take it all in that was crazy enough for me and then I was able to call my family and give them the news. That was definitely a big moment for me."
Sewing up the Cunningham extension was a no-brainer decision for General manager and head coach Bill O'Brien.
"If a guy is playing well and is a good person and a really good person in the community, you're going to do whatever you can to try to make that guy a part of your team for a long time," O'Brien said.
Cunningham's tackle totals have risen in three successive seasons, going from 90 as a rookie, to 107 in 2018 to the AFC-best 142 last year. That improvement, according to defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver, doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Weaver recently singled out Cunningham as one of three defenders who's most caught his eye during this training camp.
"Zach Cunningham is a guy who day in and day out just gets the job done and makes plays that always leave you shaking your head a little bit," Weaver said. "You're like, 'how did he make that play?' "
For Cunningham, the willingness by the Texans to do the deal now said quite a bit.
"Just from their standpoint being able to lock me in, it kind of told me they have a great amount of trust in me," Cunningham said. "They believe in me and what I can do for the program. The feeling is the same for me. I believe I have a lot to give to the program."
Cunningham and the Texans will scrimmage on Wednesday evening inside NRG Stadium. They kick off the 2020 NFL season on Thursday Night Football at Kansas City, September 10.