But I digress.... and I am back now, so all's well that ends well... and HEY! While I was gone, the Texans signed inside linebacker Bernardrick McKinney to a five year contract extension! Good times!
This deal was one we all saw coming, as new Texans general manager Brian Gaine had been indicating all offseason that locking in the former second round pick out of Mississippi State for the long term was a priority of this franchise. Let's dig into a few facets of this signing, and some ripple effects for down the road to keep an on...
4. McKinney is being rewarded for leadership and availability.
McKinney has been productive player in his three seasons, last season contributing 95 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, but make no mistake — this is a pricy extension. McKinney gets five years, $50 million, with $21 million guaranteed, one of the highest guarantees in league history for an inside linebacker. McKinney has never made a Pro Bowl, and he certainly has at least one glaring hole in his game (cough — coverage! — cough), but this is a signing more about intangibles than anything else. Bill O'Brien values McKinney's leadership, Romeo Crennel values McKinney's acumen, and the team as a whole values his availability (he's played all 16 games each of the last two seasons). Gaine is, too, a big fan of McKinney:
"Benardrick plays a key role in our defense and has been highly productive, but more importantly he is a core player who has developed into a team leader within our program," general manager Brian Gaine said in a statement released by the team. "We are excited to have him a part of our long term future here at the Texans."3. The Texans finally extend a second round pick!
If you're looking for contractual forensics on why Rick Smith is no longer the team's general manager, know this — McKinney is the first second round pick to sign a second contract with the team since DeMeco Ryans. Ryans was drafted in 2006, so it's a fancy way to say, THIS IS THE FIRST Rick Smith second rounder to ink a second contract with the team. Absolutely abominable. Here are the list of second rounders in between Ryans and McKinney:
2007: Traded for Matt Schaub
2008: Traded for Matt Schaub
2009: Connor Barwin (signed with the Eagles in 2013)
2010: Ben Tate (signed with the Browns in 2014)
2011: Brooks Reed (signed with the Falcons in 2015)
2011: Brandon Harris (released in 2014)
2012: Traded out of second round
2013: D.J. Swearinger (released in 2015)
2014: Xavier Su'a-Filo (signed with the Titans in 2018, but was abjectly terrible for four seasons)
Please do better than this, Brian Gaine.
2. Zac Cunningham is a key to this signing
Drafting Cunningham in 2017 in the second round has fortified the Texans inside linebacking corps into one of the real strengths on this team. Specifically, Cunningham's athleticism and ability to move in space (in coverage, specifically) give the Texans a great complement to McKinney. The pairing of McKinney and Cunningham makes a lot more sense than the pairing if McKinney and an aging Brian Cushing. Cunningham's ability to fill the gaps in McKinney's game may have enabled the ease with which this deal for McKinney got done, eliminating any consternation over the flaws in McKinney's game.
1. So is Clowney next?
So now we wait in the monster extension for Jadeveon Clowney, who continues to rehab from knee surgery in the offseason. The deal seemed imminent, according to many members of the national media over the last couple months, however, for the first time this offseason, John McClain reported on my radio show on Friday that he doesn't think the deal gets done this offseason, and that he thinks Clowney is likely to play 2018 under the fifth year option on his rookie deal. Here is the audio of McClain disclosing this on my show:
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