Several notes to tack onto the news that the Kansas City Chiefs have placed the franchise tag on Justin Houston.
Non-exclusive franchise tag
First, the franchise tag is of the non-exclusive variety, according to Pro Football Talk. That means that other teams can offer Houston a contract, which the Chiefs will have a chance to match. If the Chiefs decline to match the offer, they will receive two first round picks as compensation for losing Houston. They could also choose to match it but there are several teams out there, including the Raiders and Jaguars, who have a boatload of cap space and could make matching an offer very difficult for the Chiefs and their salary cap situation. Looking around other teams, the Colts, who have cap space and are picking at the end of the first round, could be another team who might be interested in making that deal. PFT's report states that teams with low first round picks (and enough cap space) could be the ones who would be interested. Historically teams have valued first round picks too much -- and the millions upon millions it would take to sign him -- to use this tactic. But it's not often a player who nearly set the NFL sack record is potentially available, even at a steep price.
Houston not expected to sign franchise tag right away
Second, it's been reported by a number of outlets that Houston does not plan on signing the tag right away. This means that while the Chiefs would have his rights, Houston would not technically be under contract and therefore would not have to attend the Chiefs offseason workouts. The downside for him is the unlikely scenario of him being injured while working out and not having the guaranteed $13 million to fall back on.
A league source tells me Houston is not expected to sign his franchise tender at the moment.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) March 2, 2015
Not expecting Justin Houston to sign the tag anytime soon. That one could take a while. Likely a similar tact for Jason Pierre-Paul.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 2, 2015
#Chiefs star LB Justin Houston will not sign his franchise tag any time soon. Don’t expect to see him for a while.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2015
Waiting how long to sign it?
Pro Football Talk takes Houston not signing the franchise tag right away to the next level. They say Houston could be waiting until Week 10.
Per league source, Justin Houston already is considering waiting until Week 10 to sign franchise tender to stay with Chiefs.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 2, 2015
That's the deadline to sign the franchise tag and still get an accrued season. Other players have waited it out before so while it may seem premature right now, it's not out of the question. Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins come to mind as players who have waited until late in the season to report to the team. It's a different situation but Josh Gordon was fighting over his accrued season.
Houston, who has yet to have his big pay, would be missing out on several million dollars by waiting until the season to sign. He has shown he's willing to wait though.
DE or LB?
Finally, there's this, which we've heard some grumblings about in recent weeks:
Justin Houston will consult with NFLPA to decide whether to file grievance on whether he's a DE not an LB, per source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 2, 2015
The defensive end franchise tag will be more than the linebacker tag so that's the motivation for this. Think of the Terrell Suggs situation a few years ago or the Jimmy Graham situation last year.