The Texans have signed Brian Cushing to a six-year contract extension worth $55.6 million with $21 million guaranteed. This deal certainly will get the attention of Brian Orakpo and his agent.
Cushing and Orakpo are, as they say in the contract negotiation biz, close comparables. They were drafted two spots apart in 2009 with Orakpo going with the 13th pick and Cushing with the 15th. They both play linebacker in their teams' 3-4 defensive scheme, Cushing on the inside, Orakpo on the outside. Both of them missed a substantial portion of last year with injuries; Orakpo had a torn pec that cost him 14 games and Cushing was out for 11 with a torn ACL.
And they both are playmakers. Orakpo has more sacks, 29.5 compared to 9.5 for Cushing. However Cushing has seven career interceptions while Orakpo is still looking for his first.
Until today, both had contracts that expired after this season. With Cushing now in the fold with an average of about $9.25 million per year and the $21 million guaranteed, Orakpo's agent now has something solid to work with. If he has what was a typical season, maybe nine sacks and a couple of forced fumbles, Cushing's deal should represent the floor for his new deal. If he exceeds it, he starts working his way towards what Clay Matthews, the Packers' OLB picked 26th overall in the same draft as Orakpo and Cushing, makes. In April Matthews signed a five-year deal worth $66 million (about $13 million/year) with $31 million guaranteed.