Linebacker Zach Cunningham signed a four-year deal worth $58 million with the Houston Texans prior to the 2020 season. The 27-year-old was released by the Texans on Wednesday, just under two years into his long-term contract.
Texans head coach David Culley stated at recent press conference that Zach Cunningham did not meet the standards that the team expects from its players:
“We have standards. I didn’t feel like those standards were being met consistently…I feel like I made a decision that was best for our team. It is not about one individual. It is not about being the best player on the team. But also, being the best player for the team.” – David Culley on Zach Cunningham’s release.
After being ranked second in the league in tackles last season with 164, Zach Cunningham is still a young and talented player despite what Culley and the Texans think of him. The Tennessee Titans think he’s a talented player as well, picking him up off waivers on Thursday. But how much are the Titans going to have to pay him for the rest of the season?
What will Zach Cunningham earn in 2021 with Titans?
The Tennessee Titans will carry Zach Cunningham’s deal from the Texans. The Texans are on the books for his $2.4 million 2021 signing bonus, $715,000 base salary and $323,521 roster bonus. Tennessee gets Zach Cunningham for a cap hit of just $422,055 this season, including a base salary of $275,000 and roster bonus of $147,055.
Zach Cunningham also receives a bonus for being active in a game worth nearly $30,000 per game. If he starts every game for the Titans for the rest of the season, he could earn around $150,000. Overall, the Titans are getting a solid defensive starter for less than $1 million this year.
Tennessee could continue to keep Zach Cunningham on his current deal, which would have a cap hit of $10,.5 million, $11.5 million and $13 million over the following three seasons. There is a potential ‘out’ built into the contract ahead of the 2023 season, allowing the Titans to move away from Zach Cunningham for zero cap hit and zero dead cap.
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The Titans have most of their linebackers listed as either questionable or on Injured Reserve. Zach Cunningham is set to place behind Harold Landry lll on the depth chart. However, he should expect to see plenty of playing time as the Titans try to secure a wildcard spot. There’s a chance he will never see the majority of the money from his deal with the Texans, but at least he is on an NFL roster.