The Houston Texans are parting ways with one of their longtime defensive leaders.
Linebacker Brian Cushing has been informed by the team that he will be released by the start of the league year on March 14, the Houston Chronicle first reported. The Texans will save more than $7 million by releasing him.
During the season, Cushing served a 10-game suspension this season for violating the NFL performance-enhancing drug policy.
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Cushing was selected 15th overall by the Texans in the 2009 NFL Draft. He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award and led the Texans in tackles in 2009, 2011 and 2015. In nine seasons with the Texans, he has 674 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 8 interceptions and 9 forced fumbles in 104 games.
“It’s all good. It’s just part of the business,” Cushing told McClain in a text message.
Cushing, 30, recorded a career-low 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2017. He was limited to five games due to a 10-game suspension for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing-drug policy. It was his second ban under the policy since joining the NFL in 2009.
Cushing said the suspension was the result of taking an unapproved medication for mental health issues.
“I was getting a prescription medication that I probably should have been…more careful with and I should have communicated with the league a lot better about,” Cushing told reporters. “I take full responsibility for it, and [it’s] something now I’m working with the league at taking again through their terms and through their doctors to OK it.”
Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole emerged for the Texans last season, making the decision to release Cushing all but preordained.
Cushing had two years remaining on the six-year, $52.5 million extension he signed with Houston before the 2013 campaign, per Spotrac.
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