Brian Cushing signs $56 million extension with Texans
Knowing that they needed to retain the heart and soul of their defense, the Texans were sure to lock up their stud middle linebacker before he had an opportunity to hit free agency. The Texans signed Cushing to a six-year, $55.643 million extension that will keep him in Houston through 2019. The deal includes $21 million guaranteed - $5 million more than Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee got a few weeks ago.
Cushing is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in October of last year. However, it was reported in early August that he had "no soreness" and was ready for game action more than a month before the Texans' season opener, so he is expected to be one hundred percent healthy when his team takes on the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football this week.
The time that Cushing missed due to injury actually may have made him some money, as the Texans' defensive play during his absence showed just how important he is to the team. In the five games that Cushing started, the Texans gave up only 275.6 total yards per game. In the 11 games after Cushing's injury, they gave up 344.9 yards per game.
Most great middle linebackers make a huge impact in the running game, and you can easily see Cushing's effect in that area. The Texans held opponents to less than 80 rushing yards in four of Cushing's five games, but did so only twice over 11 games without Cushing (twice in 13 games if you count the playoffs).
Finally, the Texans forced more turnovers with Cushing on the field. They racked up 11 takeaways in Cushing's five games (2.2 per game), while forcing only 16 turnovers over the 11 games without him (1.5 per game).
Although he hasn't made the Pro Bowl since his rookie year in 2009, it is obvious that Cushing is an impact player. He's an integral part of the Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense, and the Texans - who boasted a top-10 defense in 2012 - should be even better defensively with Cushing playing a full season.