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Chiefs deadline to use franchise tag on Justin Houston coming soon

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs only have a few more days to use the franchise tag on Justin Houston.

The franchise tag window opened on February 16 this year and the deadline comes on the afternoon of March 2, which is this coming Monday. No one in the league has used the franchise tag yet but the Chiefs are widely expected to use it on Houston.

I've been resigned to Houston getting the franchise tag ever since Chiefs GM John Dorsey basically confirmed he would use it back in December. There's always the chance they can work out a long-term contract -- Dorsey and Houston's agent were reportedly meeting at the NFL Combine last week -- but it's hard to see something getting done in the next few days when they couldn't figure out a deal in the last year.

Once / if the Chiefs use the tag on Houston, the question is whether he will sign it. PFT reported he would definitely sign it but based on last year I would have guessed he would wait this one out for a while. We'll see. If he does not sign it right away, he will not technically be under contract yet so he wouldn't have to attend the Chiefs offseason workouts starting April 21. Last season, Houston skipped those offseason workouts and then nearly broke the NFL sack record. So it would be nice if he were there ... but necessary? Probably not.

If the Chiefs tag Houston and if he signs it, the two sides will have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. Per NFL rules, Houston must play under the one-year franchise tender if they do not agree on a new deal by July 15. So that's more of a deadline than anything else this week. The smart money at this point seems to be on Houston playing all season on the one-year franchise tender and then coming back and trying for a new contract again next year.

The franchise tag for linebackers this year has been estimated to be around $13 million. We'll know once the NFL formally announces the amounts for this year. Two years on that franchise tender would equal about $29 million or so. You can use that for the starting point on these negotiations.