Justin Houston was going to be among the most sought-after free agents in any scenario this offseason after leading the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014. However, he is reportedly staying with the Chiefs for at least one more season, as the team franchise-tagged him before the deadline.
Continue for updates.
GM Dorsey Comments on Houston's Status
Thursday, March 12
Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star provided a statement from Chiefs general manager John Dorsey preaching patience regarding the status of Houston's contract: "Well, I think the last time I talked to his representatives were about a week ago. It's an ongoing process, it doesn't happen overnight. These things with players of this magnitude, it's going to take a while."
On Feb. 19, well before the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Houston, ESPN.com's Adam Teicher provided comments from Dorsey about Houston and his future with the franchise:
Regarding Houston, I asked whether the Chiefs would make him the franchise player if the sides cannot reach agreement on a long-term contract beforehand. Dorsey didn't answer directly but his response should calm some fans who are anxious about the Chiefs losing the NFL's reigning sack leader.
"I don't foresee Justin going anywhere," Dorsey said.
Houston Reportedly Unhappy With Chiefs
Saturday, March 7
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing multiple sources, reported the following:
Houston is very upset with the Chiefs. It’s believed that he’ll actively solicit an offer sheet in the hopes the Chiefs won’t match it. If an offer sheet doesn’t happen before the 2015 draft, something could happen after the draft, because at that point a team signing him would give up first-round picks in 2016 and 2017.
Chiefs Use Franchise Tag on Houston
Monday, Mar. 2
"Game of tag is underway: Chiefs officially placed their franchise tag on LB Justin Houston, per team source," reported ESPN's Adam Schefter.
It's been speculated for a while now that Houston might be tagged while he works on a long-term deal with the Chiefs. On Feb. 15, Florio, citing a league source, reported, "Chiefs and Houston's agent, Joel Segal, will make another attempt early in the week at making progress on a long-term deal."
On Feb. 11, Florio reported the following:
Look for the Chiefs to apply the franchise tag to Houston during the two-week window that opens on Monday [Feb. 16]. Then look for Houston to immediately sign the franchise tender, opting to play the year-to-year game that would force the Chiefs to give him a 20 percent raise in 2016 or let him walk—and then a 44 percent raise in 2017 or let him walk.
Why Houston Is a Coveted LB
Monday, Jan. 19
Houston was a modest third-round pick out of Georgia in the 2011 NFL draft, mostly due to a positive test for marijuana, which harmed his stock. That allowed the Chiefs to skate by and not pay him an exorbitant salary, which he commands now given his on-field performance.
A decent rookie season preceded three in which Houston racked up double-digit sack totals and went to the Pro Bowl. In an era in which NFL rules favor offenses that pass the ball well, he will be even more coveted on the open market.
Time is on Houston's side to be one of the best players of his generation. It's just a matter of staying healthy and deciding where he wants to play for the next phase of his career.