After failing to find a trade partner for Justin Houston, the Chiefs have released the veteran linebacker.
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Kansas City drafted Houston in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. In eight seasons with the team, he recorded 377 tackles, 78.5 sacks, including 22 sacks in 2014. During that 2014 season, Houston set the franchise record for sacks and finished half a sack shy of Michael Strahan’s record all-time NFL record. He finishes with the fourth most sacks in team history, behind Derrick Thomas, Tamba Hali and Neil Smith. Houston also forced 14 fumbles and had 8 fumble recoveries. Furthermore, his continued growth helped mold other pass rushers that have played for the Chiefs in recent years.
Kansas City was likely unable to find a trade partner due to Houston’s $15.25 million base salary for 2019. By releasing him, the Chiefs free up $14 million in salary cap space and $15.5 million in cash for 2019, while leaving $7 million in dead money. As a result, this increase in salary cap space could be used on signing a big name free agent this offseason. Say, Landon Collins, Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu for example.
Some quotes about Houston
Andy Reid: “I’ve been fortunate to get to know Justin over the last six seasons, and not only is he a talented football player, but he’s a tremendous person. He’s really helped set the tone, and I appreciate the work he put in with us. I wish him the best as he continues his career.”
Brett Veach: “Justin has made a lasting impact on this franchise and I can’t thank him enough for his contributions over the years. These decisions are never easy. I have a great deal of respect for Justin as a player and a person and I wish him and his family the best moving forward.”
Clark Hunt: “Over the last eight seasons we’ve had the ability to watch Justin grow into a leader on and off the playing field. His passion helped him become one of the most successful pass rushers in franchise history. We appreciate his contributions to our team and community and he’ll always be a part of the Chiefs family.”
While this move was expected due to money constraints, it’s tough to see a workhorse like Houston have to go. His production is still good when healthy, as we saw him having a late surge in pass rushing last season. Consequently, there will definitely be suitors out there willing to bring him in.
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