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The Chiefs have released Justin Houston

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After much offseason speculation, Kansas City has chosen to part ways with the longtime linebacker.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have released linebacker Justin Houston, as originally reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Chiefs confirmed the report by way of their official Twitter account.

CHIEFS OWNER CLARK HUNT: “Over the last eight seasons we’ve had the ability to watch Justin grow into a leader on and off the playing field. His passion helped him become one the most successful pass rushers in franchise history. We appreciate his contributions to our team and community and he’ll always be considered a part of the Chiefs family.”

CHIEFS HEAD COACH ANDY REID: “I’ve been fortunate to get to know Justin over the last six seasons, and not only is he a talented football player, but he’s a tremendous person. He really helped set the tone, and I appreciate the work he put in with us. I wish him the best as he continues his career.”

CHIEFS GENERAL BRETT VEACH: “Justin has made a lasting impact on this franchise and I can’t thank him enough for his contributions over the years. These decisions are never easy. I have a great deal of respect for Justin as a player and person and I wish him and his family the best moving forward.”

News that the Chiefs were shopping the 30-year-old linebacker broke at the NFL’s Scouting Combine late last month, and Chiefs general manager Brett Veach addressed those rumors during his media opportunity.

“Obviously, I’ve seen it myself out there,” Veach said at the time. “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 had two years left on his contract with the Chiefs, but the fact that he held the largest 2019 cap number on the team made him expendable (OverTheCap). The number was so high that it also made Houston untradeable.

As a result of Houston’s release, the Chiefs save $14 million worth of cap space in 2019.

The Chiefs originally drafted Houston with their third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

He compiled 381 tackles (317) and 78.5 total sacks (fourth in Chiefs franchise history) during his career with the Chiefs, highlighted by a 22.0-sack 2014 season.

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