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.
|Ajax star De Ligt wins Golden Boy award|
|Foles fuels Eagles´ upset win over Rams|
|Latham carries bat as New Zealand leave Sri Lanka reeling|
|Keep your cool, Virat – Paine and Kohli in another confrontation|
|Depleted Nuggets complete season sweep of Raptors|
|Fabinho was ´outstanding´, says Klopp|
|Patriots QB Brady on loss to Steelers: We aren´t playing well enough to win|
|Elliott says Cowboys´ shut-out loss to Colts was embarrassing|
|De Bruyne not worried about Liverpool title challenge|
|Sixers star Simmons makes history with triple-double|
|WATCH: Nowitzki receives standing ovation in first home game of season|
|Seattle´s playoff spot on hold after Seahawks suffer OT loss to 49ers|
|Cheika survives as Wallabies coach, Johnson appointed|
|Vikings remain in NFC playoff picture|
|Steelers stay ahead as Patriots lose AFC´s second seed|
|Lionel Messi is the best, says Amor|
|I´m still tired just looking at Robertson – Mourinho in awe of Liverpool intensity|
|Casillas takes swipe at Mourinho after United lose to Liverpool|
|Valverde relieved as Messi brilliance prevents another Levante nightmare|
|WATCH: Leno proposes to girlfriend after Bears clinch division title|
|Messi and Suarez the world´s best strike partnership, says Pique|
|Klopp: I cannot keep every Liverpool player happy|
|Messi and Suarez outscoring Real Madrid and Atletico in LaLiga|
|Levante 0 Barcelona 5: Marvellous Messi banishes ghosts of last season|
|Colts rout Cowboys to keep playoff hopes alive|
|Bears shake off Packers to win NFC North and return to playoffs|
|Mourinho explains Pogba omission and defends Lukaku´s Liverpool showing|
|Liverpool´s display against Manchester United one of the best, claims Klopp|
|Look away Jose! Damning stats expose Manchester United´s limp Liverpool loss|
|Time´s up, Mourinho: Manchester United can dither no longer|
|Manchester United´s players are not dishonest – Mourinho|
|Manchester United´s lack of ambition under Mourinho is scary – Keane|
|Mourinho: All Manchester United can achieve is fourth|
|Quagliarella should be protected by UNESCO, jokes Sampdoria coach|
|Manchester United surpass last season´s goals-against tally in first 17 games|
|Hasenhuttl revels in ´unbelievable´ victory over Arsenal|
|Liverpool 3 Manchester United 1: Shaqiri´s late show bails out Alisson as Reds return to the top|
|Edinburgh in control in Champions Cup, Racing win again|
|Emery ponders January signing after Bellerin injury|
|It is only a knock – Sarri plays down Hazard injury fears|
|Redskins QB Alex Smith released from hospital|
|Starc: If I listen to Warne, I may as well retire|
|Curry interviews retired NASA astronaut, apologises for moon comments|
|Hazard refusing to give up on Premier League title hopes|
|Ziyech & Blind score hat-tricks as Ajax claim 8-0 win|
|Canelo v Fielding: What next for three-weight champion Alvarez?|
|Southampton 3 Arsenal 2: Austin and Ings end Gunners´ long unbeaten run|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 1 Chelsea 2: Sensational Hazard proves the difference|
|Pogba on the bench as Clyne starts for Liverpool|
|Lipsky ends long barren spell in Malelane|
|Lakers´ Stephenson to repeat air guitar despite technical|
|Fletcher pushed Miller on to Broncos sack record|
|The Sarri effect: Hazard surpasses 2017-18 goal involvements in just 16 games|
|Van der Burgh retires on a high note with breaststroke double|
|Rashford: Liverpool was never an option|
|No team Liverpool play this season will be as motivated as Man United – Klopp|
|India surprised by contentious Kohli decision - Bumrah|
|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|