In a move that was expected, Kansas City outside linebacker Justin Houston did not show up to the Chiefs mandatory minicamp as he continues to seek an extension on his contract that will end at the end of the 2014 season.
Houston, 25, has started 37 games in his first three seasons since the Chiefs took him in the third round out of Georgia in the 2011 NFL Draft and has 21 sacks in his last 27 games over the last two seasons, including 11 in 11 games last year. He is scheduled to make $1.4 million in the final year of his rookie deal.
An extension is likely headed his way once the club comes to a resolution with starting quarterback Alex Smith who is in ongoing negotiations with the team in his final year of his contract. Houston is one of the best outside linebackers in the AFC and a pass-rushing force off the edge, so it’s imperative to keep him happy and they most likely will.
Houston will be subject to a $70,000 fine for missing the mandatory workouts, but if he is successful in getting the lucrative extension and big signing bonus, that will be a drop in the bucket.
In the meantime, the Chiefs have been able to put first round pick Dee Ford in Houston’s spot in the starting lineup and accelerate the former Auburn defensive end to the NFL speed and getting acclimated to the new position.
Adam Teicher of ESPN.com tweeted that the Chiefs gave the No. 23 overall pick all the snaps with the first team and “looked like he didn’t mess anything up” so he’s got that going for him.
Make no mistake about it, however, the Chiefs need Houston to be happy and getting after the quarterback, especially in a division with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, if they are to replicate their success of a season ago that saw them go from the team with the worst record in the NFL in 2012 to a postseason berth.
With Tamba Hali, Houston and Ford the Chiefs could boast one of the best trio’s of pass-rushers in the NFL, but will they have him at their disposal or will this drag into training camp and beyond?