The Houston Texans have locked up linebacker Brian Cushing to a six-year extension, reportedly worth $55.643 million, with $21-million guaranteed.

Cushing, who is the leader of the Texans defense, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Week 5 of the 2012 season. He was entering his last year of his rookie contract, so Houston needed to tie the 26-year-old up before it was too late.

According to the Houston Chronicle, All-Star wide receiver Andre Johnson restructured his contract to free up $5.5 million dollars in cap space for Cushing’s new deal.

In four years, the middle linebacker has 49 games to his résumé. In those games Cushing has amassed 10.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, seven interceptions, and 239 tackles.

Last year, the Texans’ defense struggled after Cushing suffered a career ending injury. Following his injury, Houston allowed 30 or more points to four teams.

After beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, they lost 41-28 to the New England Patriots.

Cushing’s first game back will be on Monday Night Football, as the Texans will face the San Diego Chargers.

His biggest difficulty will be stopping Chargers running back, Ryan Matthews. Matthews is a streaky running back, but with a solid Texans defense, I see the Chargers relying heavily on the passing game.

This should be an easy win for the Texans, who are seen as a top contender for the Superbowl in 2013.