The deadline for the Kansas City Chiefs to use the franchise tag comes on Monday afternoon. By the 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) deadline for using the franchise tag, we expect the Chiefs to tell us they either used the tag on Justin Houston or reached a long-term contract with him. Don't bet on the latter; the franchise tag is widely expected for Houston.
The two sides have been working on a long-term contract since last year. I can't imagine everything will change in a matter of a few hours today and they'll get a deal done; so expect the franchise tag to be used.
The 2015 franchise and transition tag numbers have not been officially released yet but NFL Network's Albert Breer predicts the franchise tag for linebackers will be about $13.1 million. That would mean that the Chiefs would need to clear enough cap space for Houston's $13+ million tag number by the start of the new league year on March 10.
The Chiefs are said to have about $6.5 million in cap space right now so they will have work to do.
Placing the franchise tag on Houston will keep him in Kansas City for at least one year. It's not clear yet if Houston will sign the tag immediately and join the Chiefs for offseason workouts or whether he will do as he did last year and skip the offseason program.
The ultimate goal is to complete a long-term deal but with a deal potentially in the range of $15 million per year you can't be surprised this is taking a while.
The bottom line here is that Houston is not becoming a free agent. 25-year old Pro Bowl pass rushers don't hit the open market very often so that's not surprise. The next step from here is for the two sides to continue to negotiate a long-term contract.
If Houston and the Chiefs do not agree on a long-term contract by July 15, Houston must play under the one-year franchise tender and the two sides can try again after next season.