With Brian Cushing gone, locking up linebacker Benardrick McKinney was a top priority for the Houston Texans this offseason.
A deal has reportedly been struck.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that McKinney and the Texans came to terms on a five-year, $50 million extension.
While J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney grab the headlines, McKinney holds his own in the middle of the field.
The 6'4", 260-pound linebacker has become a force in Houston's defense since being taken in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft. He had a breakout season in his second year in the league, recording 129 combined tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble. That performance was good enough to earn him second-team All-Pro honors.
Last year, he had 95 combined tackles, three sacks, one pass defended and one forced fumble.
Houston lost its all-time-leading tackler when it released Cushing earlier this offseason. However, the team believes McKinney is ready to lead the linebacking corps. Texans general manager Brian Gaine said as much about the 25-year-old linebacker in May, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:
"Leadership and production. No. 2, he plays a core position. If you’re playing the Mike linebacker role, you’re commanding the huddle, you’re leading the huddle. Production matters, but also the fact that we feel like he’s built to last. We feel that he meets the height, weight, speed parameters that we want in the role, but he is now the guy that leads the huddle.
"That’s a big hole to fill now with Brian Cushing gone. So, we are expecting big things from a leadership standpoint and perhaps now he’s ready to do that."
Now that the business side of things is taken care of, McKinney can focus on football and helping his team get back to the postseason after it endured a 4-12 campaign in 2017.