There will be at least one high profile defensive end off the 2015 NFL Free Agency market as the Kansas City Chiefs have decided to employ the franchise tag to avoid losing their best defensive player to the open market. News that will certainly be a disappointment to teams that were looking to bolster their defensive units at the expense of Kansas City.
According to reports on Monday morning the Chiefs will be tagging Justin Houston, securing the rights to their top player from the 2014 season for another year. Kansas City acted quick, becoming the first team to tag one of their players on Monday’s deadline for using franchise tags. Taking a high one season cap hit that may not result in retaining Houston longterm, but what was a needed decision for a team looking to get back into the playoffs out of the AFC West in 2015.
Houston’s cap hit will be around $14 million for the cap hit for franchise tagged defensive ends. Something that was reported by Ian Rapoport as well as ESPN on Monday as news has poured in surrounding the franchise tag deadline day.
"NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the club will place the franchise tender on defensive end Justin Houston just a few months after he finished the 2014 season as the NFL’s sack leader (22).ESPN first reported the development.Houston is just 26 and has made three straight Pro Bowls in Kansas City. The tag, which will cost the Chiefs roughly $14 million, is a relative bargain considering the mega-deal a team would have been willing to hand Houston on the open market."
Keeping Houston will be a big boost to the Chiefs as few players have been consistent as the defensive end for the team over the past few seasons, something that has been confirmed by his three straight Pro Bowl appearances. Houston was the best defensive end in the league, putting up 22 sacks in a contract year that would have seen him become the most coveted defensive free agent on the open market, perhaps more coveted than Ndamukong Suh based on his production.
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Because of that it is no shock that the Chiefs decided to use their right to tag Houston for one more season, something that buys them some time to get a longterm deal in place. Getting that longterm deal is most important for the Chiefs as the three time double digit sack talent in Houston should be their highest priority for next offseason as they simply do not want to let him hit the open market for obvious reasons.
Time will tell if Houston matches his staggering 22 sack season from last year, but it is a safe bet to assume a healthy Houston can contribute another double digit sack season for the Chiefs again in 2015. If he does that his value in 2016 Free Agency will be just as high as it was going to be this past year, putting the Chiefs in a position where they need to get a deal done with the defensive end before he can walk away without a franchise tag next year. Expect them to have a good chance to do just that, especially considering the team’s history with the former third round pick out of the University of Georgia.
Stay tuned for more breaking news throughout Monday’s deadline for franchise tags as we inch closer to March 10 and the opening of the 2015 NFL Free Agency.