Titans claim former Texans LB Zach Cunningham off waivers

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HOUSTON — Following his release from the Houston Texans on Wednesday, linebacker Zach Cunningham has found a new home.

The Tennessee Titans claimed Cunningham off waivers Thursday afternoon. By joining the Titans, Cunningham will reunite with Tennessee’s coach Mike Vrable, who served as Houston’s defensive coordinator in 2017 — Cunningham’s rookie season.

Before his release by the Texans, Cunningham served his second suspension of the season during Houston’s 31-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, after he failed to show up for a COVID test ahead of the Week 13 matchup at NRG Stadium.

Cunningham’s first suspension of the season came in a benching during the first quarter of the Texans’ Week 2 loss against the Cleveland Browns in September.

“Sometimes a divorce is a good thing,” defensive coordinator Lovie Smith said ahead of Thursday’s practice. “It is an opportunity to move on, and it is good for both parties.”

“We’ve played this way for a while. Kamu Grugier Hill has stepped up every time we’ve asked him to change his role. Last week, it was Kevin Pierre Louis. And it was great to have Christian Kirksey back. We will move forward with these guys and feel good about it.”

The Texans selected Cunningham during the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, where he became a vital piece to Houston’s success prior to the 2021 season. In 72 career games, Cunningham recorded 570 combined tackles, 12 quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks. In 2020, Cunningham led the NFL in tackles with a career-best 164.

Following his departure, Cunningham will face his former team as a member of the Titans for the first time on Jan. 9 at NRG Stadium. Kick-off is slated for noon.