What will the Chiefs do with Justin Houston?

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On Monday the Kansas City Chiefs placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Justin Houston, who recorded 22 sacks in 2014. The franchise tag for outside linebackers is $13,195,000, and not wanting him to hit the open market, John Dorsey wisely placed the tag on him. More important to know is which tag Dorsey used, because there are two franchise tag designations, the exclusive rights franchise tag, and non-exclusive rights franchise tag. Houston was tagged under the non-exclusive tag, which means that the player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. Simply put, if another NFL team offers Justin Houston a contract, and the Chiefs do not match it, Houston would go to that team, and the Chiefs would get two first round picks in return.

Even though Houston is rumored to be willing to sit out until Week 10, I think a deal will get done because it is rare for a team to give up two first round picks for one player, and they still have to offer him to a contract. Houston is an elite player who has helped the Chiefs defense, and team, reach new heights. John Dorsey would be foolish to let him go. However, this situation might get ugly, because if the cap-strapped Chiefs can’t give Houston what he wants, Houston could very well sit out. Remember, Jamaal Charles was going to hold out last year as well because he wanted a new deal, and Dorsey gave him a 2-year, $18 million extension. Also working against the Chiefs was the season Houston had – 22 sacks. Those players are rare talents, and a 22 sack season is not a fluke. A team that’s willing to give up two first round picks could very well offer Houston a contract, and if its more than what the Chiefs are offering, Houston will leave.

Follow Devereaux on Twitter: @ChiefsSince2008

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