Texans LB Brian Cushing signs extension


HOUSTON — Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has signed a six-year contract extension.

A person familiar with negotiations confirmed the deal Tuesday night. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not made an announcement.

The deal is worth $55.6 million, with $21 million guaranteed.

Cushing was in the last year of the deal he signed as a rookie in 2009. The 26-year-old linebacker returned to the field this summer after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 of last season.

“It is a great accomplishment for him to get a top deal coming off the injury last season,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said. “It’s also a credit to the Texans for recognizing that Brian is special.”

Cushing, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, has had more than 110 tackles in the two seasons when he played each game. The Texans are hoping he is as effected as he was before the injury, when he finished with 114 tackles and four sacks in 2011.

He saw limited action in preseason while easing his way back after surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, but the Texans expect him to start in the opener Monday at San Diego.

Houston started 5-0 last season behind a defense that was dominant with both Cushing and eventual Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt leading the way. Though Houston finished 12-4 and win its second straight AFC South title, some thought the unit never played as well without Cushing.

His other abbreviated season came when he was suspended for the first four games of 2010 for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances and finished with 76 tackles.

The signing is a big move for the Texans, who are looking to contend for a Super Bowl a year after being eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs for the second straight season.

Watt was excited to learn he’ll be playing on a defense with Cushing for a long time.

“Congratulations briancushing56 on the new deal,” Watt tweeted. “Scratch our conversation from today, I think we’ll let you cover the dinner bill on Friday.”