The Chiefs have slapped the franchise tag on All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston. After months of negotiation, general manager John Dorsey and Houston could not come to an agreement on a long-term deal.
The move guarantees the team must offer Houston a one-year deal worth around $13.1 million. What it might not guarantee is Houston will sign that contract. If he chooses not to sign, or if he is not listed as an exclusive franchise player, Houston can still negotiate with other teams.
If he signs an offer sheet with another franchise, the Chiefs would have the right to match the deal, or let him go. If he leaves, Kansas City would receive two first round draft picks from the other team. In a league that prizes first round picks, this would be a high price to pay, but consider this: Houston is one of the best pass rushers in a sport that builds offenses around quarterbacks and defenses around guys who can sack quarterbacks.
Houston was not happy that a long-term deal was not done last offseason. To protest, he chose to stay away from all voluntary team workouts. He might very well register his protest this year by refusing the sign the Chiefs' franchise tag deal, while continuing to stay away from voluntary workouts.
While John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid want everyone signed up and taking part in team activities, Houston's lack of 2014 workouts did not hurt his performance. The 26-year-old came within one-half sack of the NFL's single-season mark of 22 1/2 last year, shattering the Chiefs franchise record held by Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.
The two sides can continue to negotiate, and have until July 15 to get a long-term deal done. Until then, many Chiefs fans will worry. They view Houston as the next Derrick Thomas, while hoping he does not become the next Jared Allen.
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