Before you start screaming at the screen, it is a legitimate question that is worth asking. First of all, Brian Cushing has been out since just before mid-season last year thanks to a torn ACL. Second, this is also someone who has been busted for PED abuse. So is that someone you lock up with a long term, big money contract?
Actually, yes. Not because of the PED use-which, thus far, seems to be a bad judgement, he got caught and it’s in his past. If he gets busted again, well, then these questions will get brought up again and again.
Injury-wise, I am sure no one knows more about the health and wellness of Brian Cushing’s knee other than the Texans. So, unless they have an incompetent medical staff checking into his knee, they made this move knowing how well he was recovered. Can’t really worry about what happens in the future, as in the NFL every contract is truly a gamble. Lock them up early and you could get them for a really good wage for a number of years (the Eagles were among a number of teams that became quite good at locking young players up as early as possible). The gamble here is that they become injured and don’t live up to the contract. Wait too long and the player opts to test free agency, at which time they become too pricey to keep-or so pricey that you have to ship out other key assets to make the cap numbers work. It’s a gamble either way.
In this case, considering what Cushing means to the Texans defense, and keeping in mind he is only 26 and in a key position, this really was a no-brainer. The Texans could not afford to let him head into free agency and risk losing him, or risk his price skyrocketing and hurting their long term cap situation. I know some will say that they could have or should have given him a few games this year to get a longer look at him, but at the end of the day, if they were considering the deal, they should be comfortable doing it now just the same as after a few games. Conversely, if they have serious doubts about him to the extent they want to see him play a few games before making a new commitment, they probably don’t really want to make that commitment after all.
At the end of the day, the Texans lock up one of their key defensive assets now, at a good cap number, allowing them to focus on this season and all other signings they have to handle in the future (like, say, JJ Watt).