HOUSTON — Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has signed a six-year contract extension.
A person familiar with negotiations confirmed the deal Tuesday night. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team has not made an announcement.
The deal is worth $55.6 million, with $21 million guaranteed.
Cushing was in the last year of the deal he signed as a rookie in 2009. The 26-year-old linebacker returned to the field this summer after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 of last season.
Cushing, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009, has had more than 110 tackles in the two seasons when he played each game. The Texans are hoping he is as effective as he was before the injury, when he finished with 114 tackles and four sacks in 2011.
He saw limited action in preseason while easing his way back after surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, but the Texans expect him to start in the opener Monday at San Diego.
Houston started 5-0 last season behind a defense that was dominant with both Cushing and eventual Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt leading the way. Though Houston finished 12-4 and won its second straight AFC South title, some thought the unit never played as well without Cushing.
Four file concussion suit
NEW ORLEANS — Four former NFL players have sued the league and its helmet maker, claiming they hid information about the dangers of brain injury.
The ex-players — Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes and Nolan Franz — filed the federal lawsuit in New Orleans on Sunday.
Last week, the NFL tentatively agreed to pay $765 million to past players with concussion-related health problems. The co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in that case told The Advocate of Baton Rouge he expects the complaint of the four to be made part of the settlement.
The league had no comment on the new suit, which claims the league and helmet maker Riddell Inc. failed to protect players from brain injuries.
Cundiff back with Browns
CLEVELAND — Billy Cundiff’s last kicking job with the Browns was temporary. He’s got a more permanent gig now.
Cundiff reached agreement with Cleveland on Tuesday, filling an unexpected hole the Browns created with less than a week left before their season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
It’s Cundiff’s second stint with the Browns. He was with the club in 2009, when he made all six of his field-goal attempts while filling in for Phil Dawson, who was sidelined with a calf injury.
Cundiff replaces the dependable Dawson, the best field-goal kicker in Browns history and second-leading career scorer who didn’t re-sign after last season and is now with San Francisco.
The Browns have been looking for a kicker since terminating veteran Shayne Graham’s contract and releasing rookie Brandon Bogotay last weekend as they cut their roster to 53.
Watkins lands with Miami
DAVIE, Fla. — Former first-round draft pick Danny Watkins signed a $555,000, one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Watkins, a guard, spent two seasons with the Eagles and started 18 games before losing his job early last year. He was a surprise choice with the 23rd overall selection at age 26 when the Eagles made him the oldest first-round pick at that time since 1980.