Analyst Advocates Jets to Claim Surprisingly Released Starting LB

Zach Cunningham Texans

Getty Ex-Houston Texnas linebacker making a run towards the end zone after securing a turnover.

The New York Jets linebacking corps hasn’t progressed the way the team was hoping this offseason.

Head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had a vision for what it was supposed to look like with CJ Mosley, Jarrad Davis, and a combination of rookies (Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood), but injuries clouded that picture.

Things don’t always go according to plan and when that happens you have to adapt. One way they can change that dynamic is by attacking the waiver wire and conveniently enough a player just entered the pool that could help end the Jets’ woes.

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Perfect Timing

Quick Hit: The Houston Texans' release of Zach Cunningham should not come as a surpriseOn this quick hit installment of Locked On Texans, Wednesday morning, the Houston Texans made a prominent move by releasing linebacker Zach Cunningham one year after he signed a huge contract extension. Fans should not be upset by Cunningham's release, but the reasoning behind his departure. @cotydavis_24, @John_Hickman12, @LockedOnTexans. Intro music by Solo Hendrix Quick…2021-12-09T11:00:11Z

On Wednesday afternoon the Houston Texans surprisingly released veteran linebacker, Zach Cunningham.

The 26-year-old was just one year into a brand spanking new four-year deal he signed in 2020 worth over $58 million.

Apparently, there was some tension between him and the coaching staff. Cunningham was disciplined on a few separate occasions for tardiness this season.

He was suspended for the Week 13 matchup versus the Indianapolis Colts because he was late to a scheduled COVID test, according to ESPN.

This wasn’t the first time that there was an incident, way back in Week 2 versus the Cleveland Browns he was benched for “recurring tardiness.”

Despite some of those issues, Cunningham is an uber-talented player that would be an ideal fit for the Jets.

NFL analyst Jake Asman who hosts an ESPN show locally in Houston tweeted out that the Jets “should claim” the talented linebacker:

Not a Perfect Player, but One That Fits the Bill

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Is Cunningham a perfect player? Absolutely not, he has his faults and obviously has had some issues, but the talent speaks for itself.

In his five seasons, he has tallied over 570 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, and has a wealth of experience. Cunningham has played in 72 games and has started in 66 of those.

Last season he led the entire NFL in tackles with 164.

The Jets own the third-worst rush defense in the league and if they added Cunningham he would immediately help in that area.

Cunningham has been No. 1 in run stop win rate among qualifying linebackers in every year for the metric’s existence (since 2017). Although he is an absolute liability in coverage ranking among the worst at his position, per ESPN Stats and Information.

He was released so Cunningham is subject to waivers (reverse order of NFL standings), so the Jets have a really good shot at landing him if they desire.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, he fully expects Cunningham to be claimed on Thursday.

This would be one of those low-risk versus high reward kinds of moves for general manager Joe Douglas.

The Jets clearly have a need at linebacker and the cost would be minimal.

Houston restructured Cunningham’s contract during the offseason and that means he will cost his next team $275,000 for the rest of 2021.

If his immaturity continues, you can simply move on, no harm no foul. Although if he keeps his head on straight this has the potential to be another steal for Douglas on the waiver wire.

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