I’m struggling to stay skeptical about this Zach Cunningham addition for the Tennessee Titans. Deep down, I know caution is the appropriate response.
I know that if something seems too good to be true in the NFL, that’s surely the case.
There’s good reason why one of the NFL’s most productive — and most durable — inside linebackers was just sitting there and the Titans had to do nothing more than raise their hand to grab him. And so a former Vanderbilt star is headed back to a hero’s welcome at a time that simply couldn’t be more perfect for the championship-hungry Titans.
That good reason? We’ll get to that. We have to get to that.
Can I say first that I adore this addition for the Titans? How could you not? For years now, I’ve watched them play the Houston Texans and had my eyes drawn to No. 41. Because Cunningham was always near the football.
He made 164 tackles last season (106 of them solo), leading the league. Since being drafted in 2017, Cunningham has 570 tackles. That’s a staggering total. Jayon Brown has 377 in the same timeframe. Since 2018, Rashaan Evans has 297.
The Titans didn’t just bolster depth for this season. They got a lot better, perhaps for many seasons. They upgraded significantly at inside linebacker, and if things fall right, they might’ve just added a cornerstone defensive player for years. Cunningham has been that good. He just turned 27, and you have to think he’s over the moon about being back in Music City, that he’ll want to excel and stay with a contender.
The easy availability of Houston Texans linebacker Zach Cunningham has left some league observers skeptical.
Cunningham has to know he could have landed anywhere. After the lowly Texans dropped him, there wasn’t much financial risk to picking him up. His salary can get costly if a team chooses to keep him on his current deal, but if not, that team could cut him loose in the short term without much fuss.
Nonetheless, more than half the teams in the NFL passed on…