A few weeks ago, our own Craig Stout pointed out the way Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach spoke about Justin Houston in comparison to Dee Ford.
The difference was palpable. Veach provided a wait-and-see answer on Houston while saying the Chiefs were excited to bring Ford back.
Those quotes felt even more relevant Wednesday when news broke from Indianapolis that the Chiefs were shopping (or drumming up interest for, depending on who you ask) the 30-year-old linebacker.
Veach acknowledged those reports in his press conference on Thursday morning at the NFL’s Scouting Combine (watch the full presser here).
“Obviously, I’ve seen it myself out there,” Veach said. “Justin Houston’s a great player and our deal is to acquire and maintain as many great players as you can. I think this time of year, I’m no different than any GM standing on the podium. There’s 32 teams here. Every coach is here, every personnel member is here and we’re staying in the same hotel, so there is a lot of dialogue. I think right now we’re in the process of just collecting information and working with what we have and kind of leave here and get together again and discuss and see what we can do to make our team better.”
Houston still has two years left on his contract with the Chiefs, but the fact that he currently holds the largest 2019 cap number on the team has made him expendable (OverTheCap).
On Thursday, Veach wasn’t willing to go that far—at least not yet.
“I would say that he’s under contract for this year and next year,” Veach added. “Our plan is to play with him. We look forward to having him on our roster, but there’s a lot of dialogue and everything’s fluid for the next few weeks until we get to the start of the league year and we’ll handle that as we get information—what’s real and what’s not real.
“It’s a good problem to have because he’s a great player.”
As I alluded to Wednesday, Houston is an above-average player making elite money. In a perfect world in which the Chiefs had more cap room, they could keep him.
But because of higher priorities (franchise tagging outside linebacker Dee Ford, and new contracts for wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive lineman Chris Jones), they can’t.
Veach also said consideration ongoing about Dee Ford and franchise tag. Said he’s spoken to Ford’s agent and everyone is “on the same page.”— Matt Derrick (@mattderrick) February 28, 2019
Seeing what Veach did last year in free agency with the splash signings of Anthony Hitchens and Sammy Watkins, he is likely going to want to bring in at least one name he likes. Remember, he has already in the past expressed interest in free agents-to-be Landon Collins and Earl Thomas.
Trading Houston could lead to $14 million in cap savings, which the Chiefs will need to make any of that possible.
In my opinion, Houston has played his last game in Kansas City.