The Houston Texans found out what life without Brian Cushing was like last season when the All-Pro linebacker went down with an ACL tear in Week 5.
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The front office moved Tuesday to ensure that Cushing will remain a part of their defensive nucleus. The Texans have agreed to terms with Cushing on a six-year, $55.643 million contract extension, a source involved in the deal told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer. The deal includes $21 million in guaranteed money. The Texans announced the extension Wednesday.
"Couldn't be happier, I'm with a team and organization I love," Cushing told Breer, via text message. "Wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
Cushing was entering the final season of the five-year rookie contract that he signed as the No. 15 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The timing of the extension is important, as Texans general manager Rick Smith has a policy against in-season contract negotiations.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson restructured his contract to free up $5.5 million in salary-cap space for Cushing's new deal, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The long-term commitment from the Texans' brass is a show of faith in the health of Cushing's knee post-surgery. It's also an acknowledgement of the inside linebacker's value, as Wade Phillips' defense allowed 25-plus points in five of 11 regular-season games without Cushing last season.
In the hard-hitting Cushing, reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and lockdown cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the Texans have the building blocks to produce a top-10 NFL defense for the foreseeable future. Watt is an obvious candidate for his own contract extension next offseason.