by Cesar Tordesillas
The Houston Texans extended linebacker Brian Cushing's contract for six years worth $55.643 million, including $21 million guaranteed.
He was entering the final season of his rookie contract he signed as the No. 15 overall pick in 2009.
Cushing, 26, was the NFL's defensive rookie of the year in 2009 and was voted team MVP in 2011.
He missed most of last season with a torn ACL caused by a low peelback block by former New York Jets guard Matt Slauson.
Prior to the injury, Cushing had missed only four games in his career while serving a suspension for testing positive for a banned substance in 2010.
Cushing has registered 238 tackles and 9.5 sacks in 49 career regular-season games and 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.
The Texans allowed at least 25 points in five of the 11 regular-season games he missed.