Chiefs, Houston move closer to franchise tag

AP

Rarely (if ever) does a guy finish his rookie contract with a 20-plus-sack season.  Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston did just that, and now the question becomes whether the Chiefs will find a way to keep him with a long-term deal or apply the franchise tag.

An agreement seems unlikely at this point.  The Chiefs weren’t willing to meet Houston’s position at times when he had far less leverage than he currently enjoys.  Now, the 22 bales of hay are in the barn and Houston’s expectations won’t be any lower than they were during the season, when the Chiefs failed to meet them.

It makes application of the franchise tag, barring a sudden change of heart, a virtual certainty.  And that’s when things could start to get interesting.

During the season, Houston’s plan was to gladly accept the franchise tender, and the $13 million or more that goes along with it.  After one of the best seasons an NFL pass rusher ever has had, Houston is now content to let things percolate.

If the market goes haywire for available pass rushers like Greg Hardy, Jason Pierre-Paul (if not tagged), and Jerry Hughes, Houston’s leverage shoots even higher.  Then there’s defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.  If he sets a new high bar for all defensive players, Houston with his average of 1.22 sacks per game over the last two seasons could argue he should at least come close.

The wildcard in Houston’s case will be the willingness of other teams to consider signing him to an offer sheet, knowing that, if the Chiefs don’t match, the price will be a pair of first-round draft picks.  With the Bills giving up a top-10 pick, another first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick to get receiver Sammy Watkins a year ago, why not at least ponder pursuing Houston with a low first-round pick in 2015 and, if a team that finished with a good enough record to be low in the draft order this year has Justin Houston, a low first-round pick in 2016?

The difference, of course, is the investment in the player.  Watkins cost the Bills $19.9 million for four years.  Houston may want $19.9 million per year.

The possibility of another team signing Houston to an offer sheet could prompt the Chiefs to apply the exclusive franchise tag, which would give him the average of the five highest-paid linebackers in 2015.  It also would make a Terrell Suggs-style linebacker-versus-defensive end tag fight more likely, since the gap between the two positions likely will be even higher based on 2015 cap numbers for the two positions.

However it plays out, the application of the tag to Houston likely will be something far closer to the beginning of the process than the end of it.

22 responses to “Chiefs, Houston move closer to franchise tag

  1. Can we stop this nonsense of a team signing one of these players to an offer sheet merely because the Bills were stupid enough to make the Sammy Watkins trade. Draft picks are too valuable and cheap.

  2. The AFC West teams all have issues that are daunting in 2015.

    I don’t think much of Indy but they have an easy division; and, if they pick up Adrian Peterson they would have a powerful offense. That said, if Houston can figure out their QB position they might shock the Colts in the AFC South.

    The AFC North is a crap shoot and teams will beat each other up. Absent a first round bye the winner of the division will have a tougher route to the AFCCG and SB.

    Does anyone think the Patriots aren’t still a favorite to play in another AFCCG, probably at home?

  3. The Bills burned a first and a fourth already on Watkins, so they would somehow be more willing to risk losing two more picks in the first round? Why?

  4. It would be easier if Dee Ford got to Sniff the field last season. Houston is a BEAST! I’d love to see him sign a long term deal to remain in KC. Doubt it happens though.

  5. The Chiefs have the best scouting personnel in the league. If Houston is too greedy the Chiefs will simply identify his replacement in the draft and pick him. Remember, the Chiefs stole Houston in the 3rd round, they can do it again with his replacement.
    Andy is assembling a dynasty team and not one player is above another. If you don’t want to be part of a MULTIPLE super Bowl winner over the next decade, get off the Chiefs bus and move on.
    The Chiefs will OWN the upcoming draft, and will be a top 10 defense this season and take back the AFC West

  6. If i am NE i am signing this guy and giving up the picks. If they had a pass rusher with this kind of talent ….. scary. besides the Pats first round picks suck for the most part anyway.

  7. gomybirdsgo says:
    Feb 28, 2015 11:32 AM
    If i am NE i am signing this guy and giving up the picks. If they had a pass rusher with this kind of talent ….. scary. besides the Pats first round picks suck for the most part anyway
    ——————
    Sure. Solder, Wilfork, McCourty, C Jones, Hightower, Mayo. When have these guys ever won anything?

  8. Iknowitall , when you say things like “remember, the Chiefs stole Houston in the 3rd round , they can do it again with his replacement” you should put “I think” in front of the rest of your moniker.

  9. 22 sacks is just incredible. How many did he have on Rivers in one game? 5?

    Chiefs should sign him long-term, BUT DON’T BE STUPID WITH THE NUMBERS. He likely won’t repeat his 2014 sack totals again.

  10. @lgw91s.

    Being a fellow pats fans i would for somehow to get Houston but you dont trade picks in the first round. Yeah we have missed on some picks but all those guys are big parts of the team with one HOF on that list (Wilfork) And your asking what all those guys have won…uhh the super bowl.

  11. derekleblanc says:
    Feb 28, 2015 12:40 PM
    @lgw91s.

    Being a fellow pats fans i would for somehow to get Houston but you dont trade picks in the first round. Yeah we have missed on some picks but all those guys are big parts of the team with one HOF on that list (Wilfork) And your asking what all those guys have won…uhh the super bowl.

    ———————-

    The only way Wilfork gets in the HOF is with a ticket.

    I like the guy, but he won’t ever make a ballot, let alone get in.

  12. derekleblanc says:
    Feb 28, 2015 12:40 PM
    @lgw91s.

    Being a fellow pats fans i would for somehow to get Houston but you dont trade picks in the first round. Yeah we have missed on some picks but all those guys are big parts of the team with one HOF on that list (Wilfork) And your asking what all those guys have won…uhh the super bowl.

    As a fellow pats fan, maybe you can tell me how many of those first round picks still play for the patriots. I don’t have any dislike for the Pats, but they have missed on first rounders over the last decade on a consistent basis. Since 2006?

    2006 Laurence Maroney
    2007 Brandon Meriweather
    2008 Jerod Mayo
    2009 No first round pick
    2010 Devin McCourty
    2011 Nate Solder
    2012 Chandler Jones
    Dont’a Hightower
    2013 No first-round draft pick
    2014 Dominique Easley

    The only pick I see on there worthy of a first rounder is Chandler Jones. The rest are 3rd round or less. However the patriots do a decent job of picking up talent in later rounds.

    Chiefs first round picks since 2005:
    2005. Derrick Johnson Pro Bowler
    2006 Tamba Hali Pro Bowler
    2007 Dwayne Bowe Pro Bowler
    2008 Glenn Dorsey
    2008 Branden Albert Pro Bowler
    2009 Tyson Jackson
    2010 Eric Berry Pro Bowler
    2011 Jonathan Baldwin
    2012 Dontari Poe Pro Bowler
    2013 Eric Fisher
    2014 Dee Ford

    The Chiefs will make better use of those draft picks. The Patriots will still probably make the AFC championship at least. Everybody wins.

  13. Houston is one of the best according to BB. He is the player on the field the offense has to beaware of at all times. KC had better keep him if they are depending on Smith to generate enough points to win through the entire season. The league is stuffed with early starters but slimm on teams that finish stronger. ( NE, SEA, GB, BAL, PIT )

  14. It seems like alot of these guys after getting the big long term deal with Mega Money have very dissapointing follow up seasons. Case in point: One Dwayne Bowe. Huge deal- very dissapointing follow up season.

  15. The Patriots 1st round pick is almost always one of the last four choices. KC is usually early to mid first round. Of the 8 Pats first round picks noted above, every one was a starter except Easley who they picked last year with an injury and knew he would be slow to come back to full strength. Four have made the Pro Bowl.

    Unlike most teams, Belichick plays the guys that play the best, it doesn’t matter what round they were drafted. That’s why he put a rookie street free agent into the Super Bowl who won the game with an interception on a play he personally coached the kid (who was playing on the scout team) on that week in practice.

    I will say this for the Chiefs. You beat the Pats bad last year and turned around their season.

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