Brian Cushing gets 6-year extension

HOUSTON -- The Texans signed inside linebacker Brian Cushing to a six-year contract extension Wednesday, locking up their defensive leader through the 2019 season.

The deal is worth $55.643 million, including $21 million guaranteed, according to media reports.

The team posted a photo of Cushing signing thr contract via its Twitter account.

Cushing was entering the final season of the rookie contract he signed as the No. 15 overall pick in 2009. The timing of the deal is key because the Texans normally don't negotiate new contracts once the season begins.

Cushing missed most of last season with a torn ACL. He suffered the injury in Week 5 against the New York Jets as the result of an illegal block by Jets guard Matt Slauson.

The Texans allowed at least 25 points in five of the 11 regular-season games he missed.

A Pro Bowler in his rookie season and All-Pro in 2011, Cushing has registered 238 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 49 regular-season games.

Cushing is one of the centerpieces of a Texans defense that also includes reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

Watt offered congratulations to Cushing via Twitter.

In order to free the salary-cap space to sign Cushing, the team restructured receiver Andre Johnson's deal to reduce a $10.5 million salary this year to $5 million in base salary and $5.5 million in bonuses, a league source said.