The Houston Texans parted ways with Brian Cushing, it was announced on Tuesday.
Houston made the decision to cut their all-time leading tackler in a salary-cap saving move.
Releasing Cushing, who was suspended for 10 games last season after his second violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, will save the Texans $7.6million against the salary cap.
The 31-year-old thanked the Texans and their fans in a lengthy Instagram post for the "toughest yet best [nine] years of my life."
"Thank you Houston for embracing me like a son from day one," Cushing wrote. "From getting married here to having both our boys born here. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to experience both of those life changing moments."
For some reason you always think this day will never come. You wish you could play forever and never have to worry about not wearing that jersey again. Anyone who says that “it’s just a game," is full of shit. This is my lifestyle, my profession, my heart and soul. There wasn’t a day in 9 years I didn’t thank God for allowing me to compete as a Texan. You can say a lot of things about me, but I left it all out there every single Sunday. I would do anything to try and be out there for the fans and my teammates. It’s the ultimate team game where you have to love and trust all 11 guys on the field that their intention is to win and not let each other down. Thank you Houston for embracing me like a son from day 1. From getting married here to having both our boys born here. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to experience both of those life changing moments. It was the toughest yet best 9 years of my life. Thank you to the Mcnair family for drafting me here and changing my life forever. I could not have asked for better ownership, a family that truly cares about their players. Thank you to Rick Smith and Coach Kubiak for originally bringing me here and helping me grow up both on and off the field. Thank you Coach O’Brien and Brian Gaine for allowing me to continue to live out my dream. I apologize I wasn’t able to bring a super bowl to Houston, but I can tell you they are not far off. Once again thank you for an incredible 9 years and memories that will last a lifetime.
Texans chief operating officer Cal McNair added: "Brian Cushing has meant a great deal to the McNair family and few players have meant more to the Texans franchise over the course of the last nine seasons.
"His work ethic, toughness and leadership, not only as a member of the team, but in the Houston community, is to be commended, especially his dedication to the military and their families. Brian will always be part of the Texans family."
Cushing, the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, was the Rookie of the Year in 2009.
He was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for his first violation of the NFL's policy against PEDs.
Despite tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2012, Cushing received a six-year, $58.643m contract extension in 2013 that made him the NFL's highest-paid middle linebacker. He played in just seven games in 2013 before a broken leg ended his season.
After a solid season in 2014, Cushing recorded his third 100-tackle season in 2015 but injuries returned in 2016 when he suffered a partially torn ACL.
In nine NFL seasons, Cushing has played in all 16 games just three times — his three 100-tackle seasons — and had just 16 tackles in five games last season. He finishes his time in Houston with 664 career tackles, 13.5 sacks, eight interceptions and nine forced fumbles.
Cushing's release does not come as a surprise after rookies Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole played well last season in his absence.
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