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.
|De Gea will bounce back from error – Marchena|
|Slater named for Maroons return|
|Woods, Faldo, Harrington and Koepka – U.S. Open champion joins fine club after successful defence|
|Fleetwood positive despite falling short at U.S. Open|
|Jesus: I had no reason to play for a penalty|
|Hernandez admits to exaggerating fouls against Australia|
|Koepka says winning two U.S. Opens not even in his ´wildest dreams´|
|Hernandez: Griezmann an idol at Atletico|
|Sri Lanka take charge despite Gabriel exploits|
|U.S. Open final-round timeline: How clinical Koepka kept his crown|
|Koepka fights off challengers to successfully defend U.S. Open title|
|´Aching´ Neymar urges referees to intervene|
|BREAKING NEWS: Koepka holds on to defend U.S. Open title|
|Lozano goal causes artificial earthquake in Mexico|
|Djokovic: Mental battle will be Murray´s biggest|
|Hummels criticises Germany tactics in Mexico loss|
|Brazil the latest favourites to stumble, but Tite and Neymar won´t panic|
|Magnificent Fleetwood matches U.S. Open record with closing 63|
|Brazil 1 Switzerland 1: Zuber pegs back below-par Selecao|
|Warrington hold off Wakefield fightback, Tigers held despite Hitchcox heroics|
|Germany follow trend of poor starts for World Cup champions|
|Reed on the charge as U.S. Open race hots up|
|Milinkovic-Savic can play for any team in Europe, says Crespo|
|Southgate keen to unleash his bold new England|
|Konta fumes as Barty takes Nottingham title|
|Kante hails Pogba´s match-winning contribution|
|Germany struggle with generation gap|
|Neymar to make first competitive start since February in Brazil´s World Cup opener|
|Kane gunning for Ronaldo hat-trick heroics in England opener|
|Balotelli would fit in at Marseille - Raiola|
|Captain Ki happy to get tough on South Korea|
|Senegal call up Mbengue with Ciss ruled out|
|Mickelson celebrates at scene of Saturday meltdown|
|Germany 0 Mexico 1: Lozano stuns woeful reigning champions|
|Chandimal to face hearing after pleading not guilty to ball tampering|
|Griezmann ´must do more´, says Deschamps|
|Gasquet shows his class on grass to end Chardy´s chances|
|Courtois: Belgium outsiders not World Cup favourites|
|You can´t compare Ronaldo and Messi – Adrien Silva|
|Kiwis name seven uncapped players for England Test|
|Lorenzo tells critics: Remember MotoGP wins next time I struggle|
|Maaloul singles out ´future of English football´ Alli as main threat|
|Poland v Senegal: Nawalka waits on Glik|
|All Blacks draft in Riccitelli and Hemopo, Barrett not risked for third Test|
|Palermo to appeal play-off result after ´illegal game´|
|Once a year is not enough! - Alonso loved Le Mans bow|
|Colombia v Japan: Kawashima eager to right the wrongs of 2014|
|Russia v Egypt: Salah poised to derail hosts´ juggernaut|
|South Korea swapping kit numbers to confuse Sweden|
|Neuer, Ozil start for Germany in World Cup opener|
|Costa Rica and Serbia serve up plenty of the spectacular in sunny Samara|
|Alonso edges closer to ´Triple Crown´ with Le Mans glory|
|Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1: Kolarov stunner seals points|
|Belgium are better than Argentina – Gomez and Panama ignoring Iceland result|
|Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar would keep the goal - Evra defends Pogba|
|Two in a row for dominant Lorenzo in Barcelona|
|Maradona denies racism claim|
|Resilient Krunic breaks Tour duck|
|Federer wins Stuttgart Open on his return|
|Injured Vunipola to miss England´s series finale in South Africa|
|Ibrahimovic not involved in Sweden´s World Cup plans, insists Andersson|
|Sri Lanka captain Chandimal charged with ball tampering|
|Portugal will not underestimate Morocco, vows Adrien Silva|
|Messi is not Maradona, he does not win a World Cup alone - Crespo|
|Hourcade resigns after Pumas´ series defeat|
|Second place is worthless - Rivaldo admits pressure is on Neymar and Brazil|
|South Africa character made up for mistakes - Erasmus|
|No World Cup pressure for Serbia, insists Matic|
|England need to learn lessons now - Farrell|
|Russia´s Dzagoev to sit out Egypt clash|