Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing reportedly signed a six-year contract extension with the team on Tuesday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the deal was set to take place:
ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli confirmed the news and the signing:
NFL Network's Albert Breer gave details of the contract:
As John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports, GM Rick Smith doesn't negotiate extensions during the season, which means this deal essentially came down to the wire:
Star wide receiver Andre Johnson also restructured his contract to make room for Cushing's presumably lucrative extension, per McClain:
Cushing was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft out of the University of Southern California, and would have been an unrestricted free agent after this season, per Spotrac.com.
The 26-year-old has endured a lot of ups and downs in his brief career as a pro.
After winning the AP's Defensive Rookie of the Year award and being voted to the Pro Bowl, he was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. That led to somewhat of a sophomore slump, where Cushing did not quite replicate the success he enjoyed in his maiden campaign.
That all changed in 2011, when he was a second-team All-Pro and had 114 combined tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions in 16 games.
Just when it looked as though Cushing had put all the adversity and missed playing time behind him, he went down in last year's Monday-night victory over the New York Jets with a torn ACL, ending his season after only five games.
Despite the severity of that injury, the Texans brass is expressing confidence that Cushing will have no issues moving forward, evident in making such a long-term commitment to the defensive star.
Cushing was medically cleared to play back in the middle of July, and he should be a key cog in improving Houston's defense from a season ago.
The Texans defense regressed without Cushing, whose coverage ability was part of what made the team the No. 3 unit against the pass in 2011, yielding just 190 yards per game. Last season, Houston gave up 226 yards through the air per contest and ranked 16th in the league.
Now healthy, Cushing should help Houston return to being a stingy defensive unit in 2013.