The Kansas City Chiefs have little reason to franchise tag Justin Houston today but they are allowed to do so. NFL rules stipulate that teams can use the franchise tag starting this afternoon with the deadline to use the tag on March 2. The Chiefs obviously will tag Houston if they can't come to an agreement on a new long-term deal. I would bet your money on him getting tagged, not the long-term deal (yet).
As for a timeline on this, there's really no reason for the Chiefs to tag him until closer to the deadline on March 2. So I'm not expecting much news until then.
There have been several reports lately on Houston's future and the process of the franchise tag.
Pro Football Talk and the KC Star reported that Houston's agent and the Chiefs are expected to talk at the NFL Combine in Indy this week. I do know they were quite a ways apart not all that long ago so I would be surprised if there was any progress there that resulted in a long-term contract. I just don't see it happening. I'm already resigned to the franchise tag coming (you'll save yourself some stress these next couple of weeks if you do the same).
It was also reported by Pro Football Talk that Houston was likely to sign the franchise tag as soon as the Chiefs put it on him. The KC Star reported that Houston has not yet decided whether to sign the franchise tag right away. If he signs it, he's under contract and will attend offseason workouts. If he doesn't sign it, he won't be. He nearly broke the NFL sack record after missing offseason workouts last season so it's tough for me to come up with a good argument on why he has to be there this offseason. It would be nice but whatever.
With over $13 million in cap space being dedicated to Houston's franchise tag, the Chiefs will need to clear some space to accommodate his salary. That means the Chiefs will do some maneuvering to fit him in.
After the Chiefs place the franchise tag on Houston, they'll have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. If they do not do so by then, Houston will play out the 2015-6 season under the one-year franchise tender, which last year was about $13 million, and we'd start all over again next year.
Key dates for Justin Houston
February 16: Franchise tag period opens
March 2: Deadline to use franchise tag
July 15: Deadline to work out long-term contract