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.
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 15|
|Miller eyeing Joshua bout at Madison Square Garden|
|Finch cleared of serious damage after another finger blow|
|Rashford ´untouchable´ because he plays on his limits – Mourinho|
|It´s important to have his mentality - Mayfield thrilled with Kobe Bryant visit as Browns beat Bronc|
|Centurion Latham indebted to ´world-class´ Williamson|
|Spurs´ Dier out until January after appendix removal|
|A-League Review: Glory down Jets to stay unbeaten|
|Philander ruled out of first Test|
|Controversial Kohli dismissal puts Australia in command|
|Thunder´s Westbrook: ´When we defend like that — best team in the league´|
|Kante at his best further forward, reiterates Sarri|
|Rose capitulates in Indonesia to squander chance to top rankings|
|Fielding: The better man won but I lived a dream|
|Rallying Bulls stun Spurs, LeBron and Ball post triple-doubles|
|Latham century puts New Zealand in commanding position|
|Mayfield leads Browns past Broncos|
|Canelo-GGG trilogy? We can make it happen – Alvarez|
|Canelo outclasses Fielding by third-round TKO|
|Farmer retains title prior to Canelo-Fielding bout|
|Qatar unveils Lusail Stadium for 2022 World Cup|
|Lakers pair LeBron, Ball revel in triple-double feat|
|Allegri hails ´great professional´ Ronaldo|
|LeBron, Ball first Lakers team-mates with triple-doubles in same game since 1982|
|Premier League contenders Liverpool ready to win titles – Henderson|
|Hopkins´ two TDs help Texans close in on AFC South title with win over Jets|
|Courtois: Simeone criticises Real Madrid to boost popularity|
|Mourinho in the dark over transfers as Pogba rumours swirl again|
|Mourinho marvels at Salah going nuclear|
|The lucky ones - Mourinho assesses Liverpool´s title charge|
|Juventus boss Allegri turned his back on Ronaldo penalty|
|Dickerson hoping Barkley falls short of breaking his records|
|Bristol shock La Rochelle, Clermont win again|
|LeBron: Meeting Jordan for first time was godly|
|Ronaldo scores Juventus´ 5,000th Serie A goal|
|I was all over the place - Allen reaches Scottish Open final despite hangovers|
|Solari defends wasteful Asensio after slim Madrid win|
|Torino 0 Juventus 1: Ronaldo capitalises on Zaza woe|
|I do my work on the pitch – Icardi unconcerned by Inter contract discussions|
|Lyon defender Rafael set for three months out|
|Inter captain Icardi is the ´perfect´ striker – Spalletti|
|Fulham have to stick together, says Ranieri|
|Nuno hails ´very special´ Wolves achievement after third straight win|
|Stuttgart captain Gentner´s father dies at Hertha fixture|
|Valverde not desperate for new centre-back amid talk of Christensen loan|
|Toulouse and Saracens stay perfect in Champions Cup|
|Kovac lauds Bayern´s best performance of the season|
|Barcelona can get the best out of Coutinho and Dembele, claims Valverde|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Werder Bremen 1: Alcacer and Reus guarantee top spot for mid-season break|
|Bristol City 2 Norwich City 2: Canaries knocked off their perch despite late equaliser|
|Atletico´s fighting spirit lauded by Simeone, Godin|
|Hodgson relieved to see Palace end Zaha curse|
|Real Madrid 1 Rayo Vallecano 0: Benzema secures steady response to CSKA loss|
|Fulham 0 West Ham 2: Snodgrass, Antonio punish profligate hosts|
|Warnock brands refereeing situation ´a disgrace´ after Watford defeat|
|Inter 1 Udinese 0: Icardi penalty gets lethargic Nerazzurri back on track|
|Wagner retains belief in survival bid despite Newcastle defeat|
|Griezmann feeling the strain after busy 2018|
|Pochettino ´so pleased´ as tired Tottenham scrap to Burnley win|
|Man Utd hand Smalling new contract|
|ES Tunis 0 Al Ain 3: Convincing victory books River Plate semi|
|Championship Review: Bamford fires Leeds to summit, Middlesbrough defeated by QPR|
|Curry reacts to Kings´ trolling with moon landing video|
|Wentz ruled out of Rams clash|
|Pochettino reaches 100 Premier League wins for Tottenham faster than Wenger for Arsenal|
|Real Valladolid 2 Atletico Madrid 3: Griezmann the hero on landmark appearance|
|Silva rues Richarlison´s missed chances at City|
|Gibson has no worries over Proteas batsmen|
|Wolves 2 Bournemouth 0: Jimenez and Cavaleiro score against toothless Cherries|
|Crystal Palace 1 Leicester City 0: Captain Milivojevic earns vital victory|