Franchise-tag fight looming for Justin Houston


With linebacker Justin Houston ready to hit free agency with 22 sacks, the Chiefs have to decide whether to pay Houston or to use the franchise tag.  Prior offers were deemed to be substandard by Houston; now that he has completed his rookie deal with a four-sack flourish, the leverage swings sharply in his direction.

And so the franchise tag becomes a very real possibility.  Also a real possibility is a fight between player and team over the position he actually plays.

Listed as a linebacker (but wisely not self-described as a linebacker on Twitter), Houston arguably is actually a defensive end, which carries a higher franchise-tag value.  Per a league source, Houston’s camp will now examine the 2014 game film to determine whether Houston lined up more as a defensive end than as a linebacker.

If the tape supports an argument that Houston spent more of his time playing defensive end, a grievance will be filed, identical to the grievance filed several years ago by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.  That time, the two sides worked out a compromise.  This time, it could go all the way to an arbitration ruling.

Regardless of the amount of the tag, the two sides will have until July 15 to work out a multi-year deal.  If, however, Houston continues to not like the offers made by the Chiefs, he could choose to take it one year at a time until the Chiefs decide to let him hit the open market — or until they give him a long-term deal that reflects something close to his market value.

8 responses to “Franchise-tag fight looming for Justin Houston

  1. He’s regularly in coverage, and does an excellent job of it. He’s also great against the run. He’s the best overall LB in football.

    He’s a LB. Period.

  2. justin houston has a lot in common with terrell suggs:

    – juicer

    – male pattern baldness

    – linebacker/defensive end

  3. You gotta love the NFL. Lets negotiate for 7 months (really 1 year) and when that doesnt go anywhere lets find a lawyer and say “uh by the way what position am I?”

  4. “Per a league source, Houston’s camp will now examine the 2014 game film to determine whether Houston lined up more as a defensive end than as a linebacker.”

    There are actually people who examine game film during the season and keep track of such things.

    He’s a linebacker.

  5. 1) Pay the man whatever it takes to keep him in Kansas City for the next five years, or lose him to another team who WILL pay him, and go through the horror show “Jared Allen: The Sequel” in 2015 (Chiefs fans know EXACTLY what I mean). Justin just broke DT’s sack record, and had 1990 been a contract year for Derrick, the organization would have given him half the FRANCHISE just to keep him in the home colors at Arrowhead…so Houston should get his money, and then the front office needs to work with Tamba Hali to get a 3-year deal done so he can stay a Chief as well.

    2) The ballpark figure should be 5/70M, or $14M/yr, preferably with performance bonuses (100K/sack or something like that). J.J. Watt and Mario Williams are the highest-paid defensive players in the game, and they’re both outside defensive linemen; 14M/yr and 10 sacks would put Houston at Mario’s payscale, and a year like 2014 would put him just below Watt, who is also a decent third tight end at the offensive goal line. I’d say these would be reasonable numbers (and everyone can play with the salary cap to get to these figures), Houston would be the best-paid linebacker in the game or top three DL (semantics at that point), and then Hali can get 3/24M or 3/27M, thereabouts, and KC can keep both of these excellent players

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