Chiefs, Steelers Pursued Whitney Mercilus

In adding Whitney Mercilus, the Packers scooped up another longtime Texas-stationed linebacker this month. Mercilus will join Jaylon Smith in Green Bay. As in Smith’s case, other suitors were in the mix.

Both the Chiefs and Steelers attempted to sign the former Texans edge rusher, according to Sports Talk 790’s Aaron Wilson and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter links). Mercilus considered both teams, per Wilson, but opted to sign with the Packers.

Green Bay, which is set to be without top sack artist Za’Darius Smith until at least late in the season, won a recruiting battle of sorts, with Houston still on the hook for Mercilus’ 2021 base salary. This was also the case in the Smith sweepstakes, which included Carolina and Washington making pushes. Mercilus, 31, joins Preston Smith and Rashan Gary among the Packers’ outside linebackers.

The Chiefs have been without their top two defensive linemen at various points this season. Chris Jones has missed the past two games with a wrist injury, while Frank Clark missed time earlier this season due to a hamstring injury. Clark also is facing NFL punishment at some point after being arrested on gun charges twice this offseason. Kansas City’s defense has struggled this season, recording an NFL-worst seven sacks through six games.

Mercilus would have strengthened a deep Steelers edge-rushing corps. Pittsburgh houses All-Pro T.J. Watt and second-year rusher Alex Highsmith, and the team added Melvin Ingram late this offseason. Watt and Highsmith missed time due to groin injuries this year, while Ingram was down much of last season due to injury. Pittsburgh, which has led the league in sacks in each of the past four seasons, has seen Ingram play every game this season.

A 10th-year pro, Mercilus has registered three sacks this season, doing so despite playing only 52% of the rebuilding Texans’ defensive snaps. He now has 57 sacks over the course of his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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