Yesterday the Houston Texans announced that veteran linebacker Brian Cushing received a 10 game suspension by the NFL for violating the league’s PED policy. This was a big blow to a team that doesn’t appear to have any direction at the moment. Looking beyond Cushing’s performance in recent years; the organization viewed him as one of the veteran leaders of the defense. Cushing is the second longest standing Texan next to Duane Brown (who is also absent via hold out). The team will look to Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole to fill the void left by Cushing. Due to the 10 game suspension Cushing will be eligible to return in Week 13 after the Monday night game against Baltimore.
Cushing will lose 10 game checks as part of his suspension; he will be paid during the team’s bye week. Additionally Cushing will miss out on 10 roster bonus checks, each worth $78,125.
Lost Salary: $3,235,290
Lost Bonus: $781,250
Additionally the Texans could seek to recoup 10/16th’s of Cushing’s pro-rated bonus money for 2017.
Bonus Recoupment: $1,645,588
That’s a big chunk of money that Cushing could stand to lose as a result of the suspension. How does this affect the salary cap for the Texans?
For 2017 the team will receive an immediate cap relief of $3,235,290 due to the lost salary. Cushing’s roster bonus cap charges will not change in 2017 since that is considered to be an incentive. The team will receive a cap credit for the $781,250 in 2018 as part of the team annual adjustment. Should the Texans go after bonus money recoupment that could affect the 2017 salary cap, however news on that topic may not be known or available until after the season is over.
What if the Texans release Brian Cushing?
Brian Cushing is a vested veteran making his salary guaranteed for the season under the termination policy written in the CBA. The Texans would not receive any additional cap savings for 2017 beyond what has been received from the salary adjustment. The team would also incur a $1.2 million dollar dead money charge in 2018. However if Cushing does not apply for termination pay (which can only be done once in a player’s career) then the Texans would receive a salary cap credit in 2018 during the annual adjustment for the additional 5 weeks not paid to Cushing.
What you need to know is Brian Cushing’s salary cap charges will not affect the 2017 remaining cap space if he is on the roster or released from the roster; beyond what the team has already saved from the lost salary. Cushing is on the suspended list which does open up a roster spot on the 53 man roster during the 11 weeks Cushing will be absent. Cushing will also be barred from entering the team facility during his suspension; he cannot workout or train or attend meetings.
It will be interesting to see what the organization does; based on past history the team will likely release Cushing once the team gets past tonight’s game with the Bengals.