Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Retirement of Whitney Mercilus

Whitney mercilus' 10 year NFL career has come to an end, as he retired on Wednesday.
Whitney mercilus' 10 year NFL career has come to an end, as he retired on Wednesday. Photo by Eric Sauseda
With the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, it's natural to look back at recent drafts and reexamine what the Houston Texans did in the first round, back when they used to have first round picks. In other words, every draft except 2018, 2020, and 2021. Amazingly, going all the way back to 2008, an inordinate number of the guys are still in the league.

Duane Brown (2008), Kareem Jackson (2010), and J.J. Watt (2011) are all on the back side of 30 years old, and all three are still playing at a very capable level, when healthy. As for other former first round picks of the Texans, one more decided to hang it up on Wednesday, and that's former outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the 26th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Mercilus, who spent nearly ten full seasons with the Texans (he spent the final four games of his career last fall in Green Bay after being released by the Texans in 2021), announced on Wednesday that he would be retiring from the NFL. In an Instagram post, from what appears to be a jovial cookout, the noted foodie had this to say:
OK, now with the decade of Mercilus coming to an end, here are a few thoughts on the life, times, and career of Whitney Mercilus:

Overall, he was solid enough for a late first round pick
Mercilus' career on the field was marked by a couple spurts of very, very good play, in particular in 2015 when he finished with 12 sacks, his only double digit sack season. He had other very solid seasons, but was never named to a Pro Bowl. Mercilus was always considered a selfless teammate, as epitomized by his 2018 season, when he played off ball linebacker for large portions of the season, which is no small feat for a guy who came into the league as a 4-3 defensive end. Mercilus was never better than the third or fourth best player on the Texans' defense during his prime, but was always very popular with fans and teammates. He hung around long enough to work his way up to 10th all time among Texans players in Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value metric.

Above all else, Mercilus was VERY involved in the community
If there was a charitable endeavor involving the Houston Texans, there was always a very good chance that you could find Whitney Mercilus somewhere nearby. To this day, he still oversees one of the more prominent player foundations in the history of the city, his "With Merci" Foundation, whose stated mission is to "provide advocate services and support to families of children with disabilities and special needs." Say what you will about the up and down level of his play over the years, but Mercilus is one of the kindest human beings to play sports in this city's history.
But, man, that contract extension......
In December of 2019, Bill O'Brien gave Whitney Mercilus, who was six months away from being 30 years old, a four year, $54 million contract, with $28 million guaranteed. This, for a player who had never made a Pro Bowl, and who had shown a serious stagnation in his game over the second half of that 2019 season, once J.J. Watt tore his pectoral muscle, and missed the last eight games of the year. It will go down as arguably the worst contracts in team history. In the two seasons he played for the Texans on that deal, Mercilus played in 19 games, and had 33 tackles and 7 sacks. He is retiring at a time where the final two seasons of that contract would still be in effect had the Texans not cut him. Bill O'Brien was an awful general manager.

And, wow, the Rock Boyz.....
I could almost forgive the lack of production during the contract extension years, had Mercilus not been a key member of one of the corniest celebrations and factions in the history of the modern NFL. I give you the Rock Boyz...
Wishing Mercilus the best in retirement, and with that I can finally pour one out for the Rock Boyz. It is officially over.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast