The Kansas City Chiefs released outside linebacker Justin Houston on Sunday, saving $14 million in salary cap space.
Multiple outlets reported the Chiefs tried to trade Houston, but no team was willing to take on his $15.5 million salary for 2019. Houston was set to count $21.1 million against the cap, which will be reduced to a dead-money hit of $7.1 million.
“Justin has made a lasting impact on this franchise and I can’t thank him enough for his contributions over the years,” general manager Brett Veach said in a statement. “These decisions are never easy. I have a great deal of respect for Justin as a player and person and I wish him and his family the best moving forward.”
Houston, 30, missed four games to injury in 2018 but still managed nine sacks and 12 quarterback hits, after posting 9.5 and 20, respectively, in 15 games in 2017. However, he has missed 21 games to injury over the last four seasons and hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2015.
A third-round pick out of Georgia in 2011, Houston made four straight Pro Bowls from 2012-15, earning first-team All-Pro honors by notching 22 sacks — a half-sack shy of the NFL single-season record — in 2014. His 78.5 career sacks rank fourth all-time in Chiefs history since the statistic became official in 1982.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Dee Ford earlier this month, but his spot on the roster is not necessarily secure. Various reports have said Kansas City could trade Ford for as little as a second-round pick, in part because he isn’t a perfect fit at defensive end in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.
The Chiefs have drafted edge rushers in the second round in each of the last two drafts: Tanoh Kpassagnon in 2017 and Breeland Speaks in 2018.
–Field Level Media