Cushing, who has been suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs in the past and who is coming off season-ending surgery, will make $10.149 million this season, including a $9 million signing bonus, and his $2 million salary for 2014 is guaranteed for skill, injury and cap purposes.
Beyond that, however, the Texans have the option to basically bring him along year by year, and they can get out of the deal without significant drawbacks for purposes of skill or cap. Cushing's $6 million option bonus in 2014 is not guaranteed and if the Texans do not exercise it, then a future year of his deal becomes guaranteed for $6 million -- but for injury only, so the team still has the ability to let him go for other reasons if need be.
Rather than franchise Cushing and then perhaps lose him after this season, the last year remaining on Cushing's rookie deal, the team controls his rights throughout his prime, and does so on an average-per-year basis well below what the franchise figure is for linebackers. From Cushing's standpoint, he gets $10 million in his pocket this season -- given that he missed most of last season due to injury, that's obviously important -- and if he stays clean and continues to produce, there is every chance he can earn $20 million in the first two years of the deal.
However, beyond 2014 base salaries are guaranteed for injury only, and he gets a $78,125 bonus for each game he is active (which he would be as long as he is healthy and not suspended).