Taking a Closer Look at the Houston Texans' Brian Cushing Extension

By Mike Kerns
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the Houston Texans‘ strict policy of not negotiating extensions or new contracts while the season is in session, it appeared like no new deals were going to happen this year. But the news broke late yesterday afternoon that the team had agreed with Brian Cushing on a six year extension that included up to $52.5 million in new money and $21 million of it guaranteed.

The first thing that the average fan doesn’t realize is that the guaranteed money portion is all that you need to look at. This isn’t Major League Baseball; players rarely see the final number on any contract they sign. It’s all about the guaranteed money for the team and the signing bonus for the player.

Before I get into my thoughts on the team moving forward with this extension, let’s take a look at the contract details first. He has a year left on his rookie deal from 2009 and his base salary for 2013 will be reduced to $1.1 million. Along with the $9 million signing bonus he received in this new deal, I think he’ll be able to eat this year.

Starting in 2014, Cushing will average around $8.75 million per season, thanks to Andre Johnson being willing to restructure his deal to provide cap relief for this deal to get done. If this deal runs its course, it will expire in 2019 when Cushing will be 33 years of age. So he is locked up for his prime and is now paid like someone performing at a high level in that window.

I stated two months ago that I felt the team should be cautious with this decision. A player coming off of a nasty ACL injury like the one he suffered early last season is risky. When you attach this kind of cash to it, it becomes a huge gamble. Hopefully, the doctor that checked out his medical exams did a more thorough job than the one who cleared Ed Reed.

It’s one of those things where I felt like the team should have waited to make this play. I realize that if he played this season and balled out, his price tag was only going to go up. But if he is simply a shadow of his former self, then what?

Again, Brian Cushing is one of my favorite defensive players to watch in this league and I am speaking of the above only from a financial point of view. He proved his value to the team last season with how the defense completely fell off after his departure. I am unable to put a dollar amount on what he does for the Texans’ defense.

Cushing may not be the best defensive player on the team, but he is the captain and heart and soul of it. Combined with J.J. Watt, the cornerstones of the Texans’ defense will be set for the next decade. This move, of course, already has local radio personalities talking about what it means for the predicted gargantuan extension the team will likely offer to Watt next offseason.

It likely means the end of the road in Houston for several long-tenured Texans. Danieal Manning, Owen Daniels, Wade Smith and Antonio Smith could very well be on their farewell tour in Houston in 2013. These are the types of decisions a winning franchise has to make when they decide to lock down their marquee players.

Again, I probably would have waited to do this deal, but Rick Smith‘s stiff policy about negotiations during the season made that tough to maneuver around. They likely didn’t want to take a chance on him making it to the open market and surely want to be able to focus all of their attention on the Watt extension in 2014.

We get to see how crafty Chris Olsen can be with the salary cap going forward. If Houston really wants to be one of those teams that is an annual contender, they’re likely to avoid too many restructures and kicking the can down the road to eventual salary cap hell.

It should be interesting going forward, but with so much uncertainty, 2013 is a bigger “win now” season than ever before for the Texans.

Mike Kerns is a Houston Texans writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and on Google. You can also listen to his Texans Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast on iTunes.

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