It may be time for the Texans to move on from Brian Cushing


Brian Cushing has been a mainstay in the Houston Texans defense for a while now. That being said, a drop in production and off the field issues may force a change. Combined with Cushing’s age and his contract, the Texans may be better off without Cushing.

PED Violations and Suspensions

First off Cushing has been suspended twice for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. The most recent offense coming this past season which caused Cushing to miss the first 10 games of the season. This is a risk that Houston can not afford to take as they look to build a contender. At any moment Cushing could violate the policy again leaving a hole in their defense. While moving on from Cushing will create a hole on defense, the proper steps would be taken to sufficiently replace him. This is vastly different than a sudden surprise of Cushing being suspended.


Cushing’s contract is quite costly,. In fact Cushing is the 20th most expensive linebacker in the NFL based on average salary per season of current contracts. Cushing is due $7.25 million next season followed by $8.25 million in 2019. This is a lot for a player who is declining and has off the field issues. There is a potential out before next season that the Texans would be wise to take.


As mentioned above, Cushing’s productivity is declining. In five games Cushing only made 16 combined tackles with 1.5 sacks. This is not the production expected from a player such as Cushing. In a larger sample size, Cushing totaled 66 combined tackles in 13 games during the 2016 season. This is better but still a decline from the previous year. In 2015 Cushing had a resurgence, totaling 110 combined tackles in 16 games. While it is possible Cushing can rebound next season, expecting a duplicate of 2015 is a bit of a stretch. Best case scenario it falls between 2015 and 2016, but that still does not warrant paying his high salary.

Linebackers currently on the roster

The Texans already have two productive players on the roster at Cushing’s position. Zach Cunningham and Bernardrick McKinney. Cushing played outside linebacker due to the injury of Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus is expected to be ready for next season. This eliminates another position for Cushing to see play time at. Before the assumption can be made that Cushing can play opposite of Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney occupies that spot and is not going anywhere any time soon.

Return after release?

It is entirely possible that the Texans cut Cushing and bring him back on a much more team friendly deal. This is a scenario that works out for both parties. Cushing does not have to move to a new city and learn a new defensive scheme. The Texans retain a linebacker who knows how to play in their system and allow them to tread water while potentially targeting a top linebacker prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft. That is if the Texans are not entirely satisfied with their young linebackers currently on the roster.

Texans options

It is just really hard to justify keeping Cushing around next season. There are multiple players who are younger and less expensive on the roster. This would make Cushing quite an expensive backup if his contract does not change. The Texans can not afford to back themselves into the corner of a bad contract. This is how a team becomes uncompetitive very quickly.

If the Texans release Cushing and he returns on a less expensive contract, sure bring him back. If not, then it is not a huge loss. Embracing the younger linebackers on the roster and building chemistry will help the Texans in the future, which is what building a team is all about.