Kansas City Chiefs fans have been suffering through the unknown future of what will be for Justin Houston and Alex Smith. The latest news hitting headlines today circles around Houston and the Chiefs having a “huge” gap in contract negotiations, according to a league source.
Houston did not participate in the team’s offseason program and there was serious speculation he would continue his hold out into training camp. Veterans were scheduled to arrive on July 23 and Houston was on the field for practice. Some fans thought this was a positive sign that there would be an agreement made soon. Unfortunately, this may go back to the old saying of money talks again. Houston received a fine of $100,000 for not attending the offseason program and he would have lost another $30,000 per day for practices unattended.
Selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, Houston was offered a four-year $3.4 million deal. In his first three seasons, his career stats read with 166 tackles, 26.5 sacks, one safety, and one interception. Both the safety and the interception happened in the 2012 season which was the only year he played all 16 games. In his rookie season he appeared in 10 and last year he played in 11. His 2013 season ended with 44 tackles and 11 sacks, which is an average of 4 tackles and 1 sack per game. His sacks in 2013 are the most in a season for his career and he wasn’t healthy for the entire season. If Houston continues at this caliber of game play he could break our beloved Derrick Thomas’ 20 sacks in one season.
According to Houston’s current deal, he will make just $1.4 this season, which is substantially low when looking what other OLBs around the league that put up similar numbers to him are making. The Chiefs did make him an offer, but he did not like it. The Chiefs still have the option of using the franchise tag next year, but with both Houston and Smith trying to negotiate better deals it is tough to know which way the tag could fall.
The Chiefs now have to decide if they want to make him an offer before the season starts or wait to see if he can produce numbers like last season. There is always some worry regarding if a player can stay healthy after a season of injury so that is also a concern. For now, fans can only hope a deal will be made to keep Houston in the Chiefs Kingdom for many more seasons.