Feb. 19 (UPI) -- The Houston Texans signed veteran nose tackle Brandon Dunn to a multiyear contract extension, the team announced Wednesday.
Dunn, 27, was set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
Dunn has seen a significant boost in playing time since the 2017 season, but has played behind starting tackle D.J. Reader when the defensive line is at full health. Reader, who is now a free agent, played a key role in the Texans' run defense when star defender J.J. Watt was injured last season.
The extension doesn't mean Reader won't return to Houston, but it signals the Texans are preparing to move on if contract negotiations collapse between the sides. Texans defensive line coach Anthony Weaver said both Reader and Dunn have become mentors in the team's locker room.
"All of those young noses, they gravitate towards guys like Reader and Brandon Dunn as well," Weaver told the team's official website. "Brandon Dunn is a guy who has been in a bunch of battles for us, understands that position and tries to impart his wisdom on those young guys."
The Chicago Bears signed Dunn as an undrafted free agent in 2014. The Texans eventually signed him to their practice squad in 2015, and he bounced around between the practice squad and active roster until the 2017 season.
Since the 2017 campaign, Dunn has missed only two games for the Texans. He recorded 25 total tackles and one sack in 16 regular-season games (six starts) last season.
In 63 career games between the Bears and Texans, Dunn has notched 88 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed.