The Texans built ample protection into their six-year extension with linebacker Brian Cushing which while it has a max value of around $56 million could end up being far less.

Cushing who has been suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs in the past and who is coming off season-ending surgery will make $10.149 million this season including a $9 million signing bonus and his $2 million salary for 2014 is guaranteed for skill injury and cap purposes.

Beyond that however the Texans have the option to basically bring him along year by year and they can get out of the deal without significant drawbacks for purposes of skill or cap. Cushing's $6 million option bonus in 2014 is not guaranteed and if the Texans do not exercise it then a future year of his deal becomes guaranteed for $6 million -- but for injury only so the team still has the ability to let him go for other reasons if need be.

Rather than franchise Cushing and then perhaps lose him after this season the last year remaining on Cushing's rookie deal the team controls his rights throughout his prime and does so on an average-per-year basis well below what the franchise figure is for linebackers. From Cushing's standpoint he gets $10 million in his pocket this season -- given that he missed most of last season due to injury that's obviously important -- and if he stays clean and continues to produce there is every chance he can earn $20 million in the first two years of the deal.