Last season Whitney Mercilus was the Texans’ third best pass rusher. He accounted for almost 30 pressures, but didn’t get to the quarterback. The Texans used him as a wide 9 edge rusher so J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney could rush tight on the tackle’s shoulders and keep attacking 1 v. 1 blocks. This desire to keep Clowney and Watt on the edges neutered Mercilus’s pass rush. He isn’t a speed and bend guy. He isn’t Von Miller. He’s a hands and rip guy that needs to play right on the tackle. Because of how Watt and Clowney were used, he wasn’t the same player. On top of all of that, the Texans played more 4-3 and 4-2 than they typically have before, and have shied away from the same old 3-4.
Because of this I wrote I would trade Mercilus this offseason. I’d link to it but the past is dead and the only thing that exists is NOW. Not because Mercilus is a bad player, but an ineffective one in this defense if he’s utilized in this manner.
But now with the Clowney news, that the Texans are dumb and awful and won’t extend him this offseason, I don’t even think trading Mercilus is a good idea now. Who knows how Clowney will respond to the tag, and how he’ll start the year after missing training camp? They don’t have the same luxury they’ve had previously now that Clowney is an unknown force.
Robert Mays at the Ringer made the case for trading Whitney Mercilus. He had the following to say:
Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Texans
“Mercilus missed most of the 2017 season with a torn pectoral muscle and was slowed during the early part of last season by a lingering hamstring issue. From Week 9 on, though, he tallied 27 disrupted dropbacks (according to Pro Football Focus) and was among the most effective pass rushers in the league on a per-snap basis. Even in the back half of his career, Mercilus is a versatile piece who’s just as comfortable rushing on the interior as the edge—and he’ll make only $5.8 million in 2019, the final year of his deal.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old pass rusher is a holdover from Rick Smith’s time as general manager, and he arrived in Houston before head coach Bill O’Brien’s tenure began. The Texans will likely prioritize bringing Jadeveon Clowney (who’s currently on the franchise tag) back on a long-term deal next spring, and with Clowney and J.J. Watt on the roster, the Texans are loaded with pass rushers. Rather than watch Mercilus walk in free agency next year, O’Brien and the team’s makeshift front office could look to recoup some value from one of the league’s many pass-rush-needy teams.
Possible landing spot: Giants. After dealing Olivier Vernon to the Browns earlier this offseason, the Giants are desperate for pass-rushing help. Mercilus fits the outside linebacker role in defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme, and he’d represent a massive improvement on New York’s current edge-rushing options.”
I don’t know about Mercilus being comfortable rushing from the interior, Clowney being a priority, the Texans being loaded with pass rushers, or the fact that Mercilus was drafted by Rick Smith as being true or having anything to do with this. Football writing is hard.
Anyways, what do you think? Should the Texans trade Mercilus? If so, for what?