The Kansas City Chiefs have been without star LB Justin Houston this offseason but it's being reported that he's likely to show up to the team's training camp, which begins in one week. Yahoo! Sports Rand Getlin reports that Houston, who has one year left on his rookie contract, "almost assuredly will be" in attendance when the Chiefs report to training camp. The first practice is July 24.
Go over to Yahoo! Sports and read the entire article. There are a few important points raised by Getlin you should know.
First, there is a rule in the CBA (Article 8, Section 1 (b) here) that states a player must report to his team 30 days before the start of the regular season if he wants to earn an accrued season. This is very important for Houston because you need four accrued seasons for unrestricted free agency. Houston currently has three. If he doesn't show, he would be risking his 2015 free agency eligibility and, just as importantly, he would be losing leverage in contract talks with the Chiefs. To put it bluntly, losing an accrued season would cost him a lot of money. From that perspective, it makes sense he would show up.
I did not think Houston would show up to camp. My thinking was that he didn't really prove much by skipping the offseason practices if he was going to show up to camp, where fines are $30,000 per day for not showing up (as opposed to the nearly $70,000 in total fines for skipping mandatory minicamp). Skipping camp would force the issue with the Chiefs. Apparently, he won't be skipping camp to force the issue.
Second, Getlin writes that the Chiefs are "likely to make Houston an offer once he reports to camp". I get that this is a negotiation and each side needs to do their thing but why haven't Houston and the Chiefs camp been negotiating offers this entire time? Why wait this whole offseason? I know, I know ... deadlines rule everything in sports. But sometimes it just doesn't make sense to me.
The Chiefs control Houston's rights, and they can conceivably control them two more years after this in the form of the franchise tag. But the Chiefs are also negotiating a new deal with Alex Smith, which complicates things with the franchise. The last thing in the world the Chiefs want is to finish the 2014 season and face the prospects of choosing between Smith and Houston, who both have expiring contracts after the 2014 season.
If somehow it doesn't get done, Houston becomes probably the top free agent on the market in 2015. Right now, eight months from free agency, it's hard for me to see Houston actually becoming a free agent. Pass rushers in their prime don't hit the market very often and that's for a reason (this ain't the NBA, LeBron -- owners have the power). The Chiefs gotta figure something out, right?
I keep thinking back to the big picture here. The Chiefs want Houston. Houston presumably wants the Chiefs (and / or their money). These things usually get done after some uncomfortable back and forth. Note that this is the first year the Chiefs could've extended Houston. The CBA states that drafted players can't renegotiate their contracts until after three years.
Recently I looked at what Houston could command from the Chiefs in the form of a long-term deal. Based on the pay of other top outside linebackers, I could see something in the range of $12+ million per year.
Update: More reports coming in ...
Despite being still upset with the Chiefs, Justin Houston is currently expected to show up for camp http://t.co/EmojcxakCw— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 16, 2014
I can confirm reports that as of now, #Chiefs LB Justin Houston is likely to report for camp w/o an extension, but wouldn't be thrilled.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) July 16, 2014