The Houston Texans are reportedly continuing their roster overhaul by releasing a veteran defender.
According to Texans reporter Aaron Wilson, Houston is releasing defensive end Whitney Mercilus after nine-plus seasons with the team. Wilson cited the emergence of young edge-rushers Jon Greenard and Jacob Martin as a catalyst for the Texans cutting the 31-year-old veteran.
Wilson later reported the Kansas City Chiefs are among the teams with "strong mutual interest" in Mercilus.
The Texans selected Mercilus with the 26th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Illinois product has 57 career sacks, recording a career-high 12 in 2015. He also has 72 career tackles for losses, 13 forced fumbles and 115 quarterback hits.
Mercilus has three sacks in six games this season, but he only started two of those games after starting a total of 28 games in the previous two years. Greenard currently leads Houston with four sacks.
Mercilus was signed to a four-year, $54 million contract and restructured his deal during the offseason by converting most of his $10.5 million salary into a signing bonus. He still makes his full salary for this year and is now free to sign with a contender.
Houston releasing Mercilus continues the team's trend of trying to get younger across multiple positions. The Texans traded away All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals prior to the 2020 season. Longtime edge rusher J.J. Watt, who holds Texans franchise records for sacks and forced fumbles, joined Hopkins in Arizona this season after being released in February.
One team that could certainly use Mercilus' services is the Kansas City Chiefs, who rank last in the NFL with seven sacks through six games. Signing Mercilus will give the defending AFC champions the pass-rush they desperately need if they hope to make a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.