Houston was more than just a pass-rusher for the Chiefs. "We appreciate his contributions to our team and community and he'll always be considered a part of the Chiefs family". Houston's contract was simply too much money for the Chiefs to bare heading into the 2019 season.
Houston started the Chiefs' first two games and 10 overall in his rookie season.
But the six-year, $101 million contract Houston signed in 2015 made it hard for the Chiefs to keep him, and they had been seeking a trade, general manager Brett Veach recently told the Kansas City Star. If it comes down to be able to pay up to get Houston, the Raiders have almost $73 million in cap space right now (sixth-most in the league, via Over The Cap). That includes the $15.44 million franchise tender for linebacker Dee Ford. He ranks fourth all-time in Chiefs history with 78.5 sacks. His 22.0 sacks in 2014 were a club record. The Chiefs began a big-time turnaround under newly hired head coach Andy Reid and Houston set a career best with 11 sacks. "He really helped set the tone, and I appreciate the work he put in with us". "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".
General manager Brett Veach attempted to find a trade partner for Houston, but to no avail.
The Chiefs are parting ways with linebacker Justin Houston. ESPN's Field Yates sees a connection, noting that Patriots pass rush coach Joe Kim worked with Houston in K.C. There will obviously be a robust market for his services, given the premium National Football League teams place on pressuring the quarterback, but with Trey Flowers potentially departing in free agency, the arrival of Houston would soften the blow.
30-year-old Houston 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.