When it comes to the Houston Texans' defense, the team reportedly wants to keep outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus with them for as long as possible.

According to a tweet from Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports, the Texans intend to sign Mercilus to a contract extension prior to the start of the season.

Spotrac also says that Mercilus will not be an unrestricted free agent until 2020, but can still potentially opt out of his contract before the 2018-19 NFL season begins. The Texans would like to keep Mercilus as well as star defensive ends J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney together as the core of the Houston defense for years to come.

Mercilus, who was selected as the No. 26 pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Texans, was limited to just five games last season due to a torn pectoral muscle he suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs. This was the first major injury suffered by Mercilus, who played at least 15 games every season in his first five years in the league.

Is this a good decision to extend Mercilus right now or should the Texans wait a bit longer? This is the case because he is coming off a season-ending injury that kept him out for 11 games last season. Regardless, the University of Illinois product should be fully ready to go when the Texans begin their offseason workout program beginning on April 16.

In 83 career games played for Houston, Mercilus has made 237 tackles and has racked up a total of 38.5 sacks in six seasons.