GREEN BAY – The Packers have added experience and production to their outside linebacker room with the signing of veteran pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus.
Mercilus, 31, has recorded 357 tackles (72 for loss), 57 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in 134 regular-season games (102 starts) over nine-plus seasons with the Houston Texans.
Here are five things to know about the Packers' new pass-rusher:
1. Mercilus had a decorated run in Houston.
A first-round pick (26th overall) in 2012, Mercilus ranks second all-time (behind J.J. Watt) in Texans history with 57 career sacks and 13 forced fumbles. Mercilus tops the team's postseason annals with seven sacks in eight playoff games. Twice in his career, the 6-foot-4, 258-pound pass-rusher led the Texans in sacks (2016 and 2019). What's more, Mercilus ('19), Watt ('18) and Khalil Mack ('18) are the only players to record at least five sacks and four forced fumbles in the first four games of a season since 1993. Prior to parting ways with Houston, Mercilus was second on the Texans with three sacks this season.
2. He's played most of his career in a 3-4 defense.
Before moving to defensive end in Lovie Smith's 4-3 scheme this year, Mercilus spent the first nine seasons of his career as an outside linebacker in 3-4 defenses. He recorded six sacks as a rookie under Wade Phillips in 2012 before transitioning to Romeo Crennel's defense in 2014.
3. Mercilus has played a lot of football.
Mercilus finished his time in Houston with the third most games played in Texans history, behind only long snapper Jon Weeks (176) and receiver Andre Johnson (169). He's played in at least 15 regular-season games seven times in his NFL career. The only extended time Mercilus has missed in the NFL came in 2017, when he sat out the Texans' final 11 games due to a torn pectoral muscle. That's the last time he's missed a game due to injury.
The Green Bay Packers signed veteran LB Whitney Mercilus on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.
4. He played the Packers three times in his NFL career.
Mercilus went 0-3 in his three meetings with Green Bay but had his best performance when the teams met at Lambeau Field back in 2016. While the Packers prevailed 21-13 in freezing-rain conditions, Mercilus had three tackles for a loss, a sack of Aaron Rodgers and a forced fumble for the Texans' defense. He was voted second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press after recording 53 tackles and 7½ sacks that season. Mercilus returned to Green Bay in 2019 for a joint practice and was jovial with Rodgers while escorting him out of bounds on a scramble during a team period.
5. Mercilus made a name for himself at the University of Illinois.
A three-star recruit out of Akron, Ohio, Mercilus chose to play for the Illini over offers from Michigan State, Purdue and Cincinnati. Despite starting only 15 of his 37 collegiate games, Mercilus recorded 81 (28 for a loss), 18 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. His 22½ tackles for loss in 2011 were third most in a season for an Illini defender. He led the nation in sacks per game (1.23) and fumbles forced per game (0.833) as a senior.