Houston has spent his entire career playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense for Kansas City, piling up 78.5 sacks in 102 games despite handling some coverage responsibilities. He said his job should be easier in a scheme that allows him to attack the quarterback on every pass play, and he already has plenty of experience lining up with his hand on the ground in nickel and dime packages. Coming off a 2018 campaign with nine sacks and five forced fumbles in 12 regular-season games (719 snaps), the 30-year-old pass rusher should provide a massive upgrade for the Indianapolis front seven, likely serving as the starter at right defensive end. Houston is signing a two-year, $24 million contract.
The Colts haven't made many high-profile free-agent splashes under GM Chris Ballard, but it appears they've reeled in a quality piece to their pass-rush rotation. The 30-year-old Houston has racked up 78.5 sacks in only 102 career games -- including nine sacks in 12 contests last season -- and should team up with 2018 first-team All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard to form one of the more imposing edge tandems league-wide in Indianapolis.
The Chiefs released Houston on Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
A third-round selection of the Chiefs in 2011, Houston exceeded expectations and then some, exploding for 43 sacks from 2012 through 2014 and posting at least 7.5 sacks in six of eight campaigns. The 6-foot-3, 258-pounder also impacted the game beyond his prowess as a pass rusher. In 102 regular-season contests, he tacked on 14 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, four interceptions (on 32 passes defended) and two defensive touchdowns. With his pick of the litter among NFL organizations, Houston should bolster whatever defense he joins as a free agent.
General manager Brett Veach said at the NFL Combine "there's a lot of dialogue" in the trade conversations for Houston. The news isn't overly surprising, as the veteran defensive end is due $15.25 million and will count $21.1 million against the salary cap in 2019. Those salary figures -- and his refusal to restructure -- make a trade difficult, so the team may have to decide whether or not to cut him to save costs.
The 30-year-old pass rusher signed a six-year, $101 million contract in July 2015 when he was coming off a 22-sack campaign, but he's played just 43 games (with 30 sacks) in four subsequent seasons. He did have nine sacks and five forced fumbles in just 12 games this past year, perhaps making a case to get in one more season under the massive contract. There's still a decent chance the Chiefs approach him about a pay cut, especially with fellow outside linebacker Dee Ford -- who had 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2018 -- headed for a sizable contract of his own.
|2011||Kansas City Chiefs||16||56||46.0||10||5.5||0||0||0.0||0||0||4|
|2012||Kansas City Chiefs||16||66||53.0||13||10||1||32||32.0||32||0||6|
|2013||Kansas City Chiefs||11||44||40.0||4||11||0||0||0.0||0||0||4|
|2014||Kansas City Chiefs||16||69||60.0||9||22||0||0||0.0||0||0||5|
|2015||Kansas City Chiefs||11||30||25.0||5||7.5||2||16||8.0||17||1||6|
|2016||Kansas City Chiefs||5||21||20.0||1||4||0||0||0.0||0||0||1|
|2017||Kansas City Chiefs||15||59||46.0||13||9.5||0||0||0.0||0||0||5|
|2018||Kansas City Chiefs||12||37||28.0||9||9||1||4||4.0||4||0||1|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2011||Kansas City Chiefs||16||0||0||1||0||1||0||1||0|
|2012||Kansas City Chiefs||16||0||0||1||0||1||4||1||0|
|2013||Kansas City Chiefs||11||0||0||1||0||2||0||2||0|
|2014||Kansas City Chiefs||16||0||0||4||0||0||0||0||0|
|2015||Kansas City Chiefs||11||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|2016||Kansas City Chiefs||5||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|2017||Kansas City Chiefs||15||0||0||0||0||1||13||1||1|
|2018||Kansas City Chiefs||12||0||0||5||0||3||0||3||0|