Justin Houston has had opportunities to chase a Super Bowl with both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts. However, the prolific pass-rusher has yet to add a Lombardi Trophy to his list of accomplishments.
That list includes four Pro Bowls, one first-team All-Pro nod, an NFL sack title and 97.5 career quarterback takedowns. The 32-year-old defender is still productive, too, having amassed 19 sacks over the past two seasons with Indianapolis.
Houston should surpass the 100-sack mark in 2021, and if he continues to play for a few more seasons, he’ll have a good chance to crack the top 20 on the all-time list. Simeon Rice holds the No. 20 spot at 122. That would put Houston firmly in the Hall of Fame conversation, but his case would be boosted tremendously by a Super Bowl ring.
Returning to Indianapolis could help Houston earn a title if the team is able to fill its quarterback vacancy. A return to Kansas City or a move to a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also put him in title contention.
League sources tell me Chiefs LBs coach Matt House turned down an offer to be defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee and elected instead to stay in Kansas City. As a well-regarded member of Andy Reid's staff, House could be on track for NFL coordinator job.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 15, 2021
If the Chiefs agree that Hardman is more well-rounded and not just a threat on deep throws, jet sweeps and end arounds, it may soon be time for them to prove it. Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, who were second and third behind Tyreek Hill in 2020 among Chiefs wide receivers in snaps played, are potential unrestricted free agents.
Hardman would be the first in line to claim their playing time. The Chiefs drafted him to be an eventual starter. It seems clear that if the Chiefs with a tight salary cap situation re-sign Watkins or Robinson or find their replacements elsewhere, they don’t agree with Hardman in his assessment that he’s ready to be an every-down receiver.
Hardman has brought value to the Chiefs. In two seasons, he has eight touchdown catches of at least 20 yards, which is tied for second in the league despite his limited playing time. He has been their primary punt returner and despite some fumbling problems helped the Chiefs there as well.
As of now, Kansas City currently owns six selections in this year’s draft – beginning with pick No. 31. The Chiefs could gain additional selections via the compensatory pick formula later this offseason, too. Compensatory picks are allotted to teams who lost significant free agents the year prior. Those picks kick in after the third round and can alter the number of selections in each round, so with that uncertainty in mind, we’ll mark the Chiefs’ exact selections in Round 4 and beyond as “TBD” for the time being.
Here’s a look at the Chiefs’ initial list of draft picks:
Round 1 – No. 31
Round 2 – No. 63
Round 3 – No. 95
63. OG Kelechi Osemele
It’s also a bit surprising to see Osemele ranked so highly. He played in just five games for the Chiefs this season after suffering torn tendons in both of his knees. He’s working toward making a recovery, but that’s a tough injury for anyone to come back from, especially a big man on the offensive line. I could see Osemele signing another one-year prove-it style contract in Kansas City if they feel comfortable with the medicals. When he did play, he brought some nasty to the offensive line that it was severely lacking, especially in the run game. He was also a stout pass protector, only allowing four pressures on the year in 184 pass-blocking snaps.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Carlos Basham Jr. EDGE
Basham is a physical specimen who will be dominant once he puts it all together. In K.C., he’ll give the Chiefs defense a much-needed boost off the edge.
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Jackson had been staying at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida, since Jan. 11, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement released Monday afternoon, before he was found dead at approximately 11:30 a.m. Monday.
The discovery followed an effort from police to locate and speak with Jackson just four days earlier as a result of a missing persons report filed by Jackson’s family members. Authorities found Jackson at the Homewood Suites and spoke with him, assessing his well-being before canceling the missing persons case.
There were no apparent signs of trauma in regards to Jackson’s death, according to the sheriff’s office.
“My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the statement. “Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else. Football aside, he touched countless lives through his Jackson In Action 83 Foundation. We shared a passion for supporting military families, and three years ago, Jackson was even made an honorary deputy by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to recognize his dedication to the community.
If Watt is looking to chase a ring, Buffalo provides one of the best chances of getting the veteran to the Super Bowl in his first year. The Bills were one win from the Super Bowl in 2020, falling to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, and Watt would create quite a tandem with Jerry Hughes off the edge. Buffalo’s blue-collar fanbase would also be a perfect match with Watt, and would welcome him to Western New York with open arms.
The Bills have a little over a million more in space than the Titans and a clear cut in veteran Mario Addison to clear the room necessary (Addison’s release would create roughly $6.1 million in new space) to add Watt. Sean McDermott’s defensive minded team seems to be one of the best fits for Watt, with credit due to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah for pointing out this potential marriage Friday.
The Washington Football Team hired Chris Polian on Monday, adding another experienced voice to its revamped front office. Polian, the third former general manager Washington has added this offseason, will serve as the director of pro personnel.
Polian filled a similar role with Jacksonville from 2013 to ‘19; he was out of the NFL last season. Polian served as a general manager with the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to ‘11. His father, Bill, made the Hall of Fame for his work as an NFL general manager.
Washington recently promoted its former director of pro personnel, Eric Stokes, to senior director of player personnel.
Fournette was unhappy with his role and made inactive for the Bucs’ Week 14 win over the Minnesota Vikings — a victory that would kickstart an eight-game winning streak to the Super Bowl. The next day, Arians had a frank conversation with the running back about his choice: Deal with the circumstances, or we can move on.
“I said, ‘This is your situation. It can change at the drop of a hat,’” Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “But this is your situation. Either embrace it, or you say, ‘Cut me.’ I said, ‘What do you want? Because this is a very special team that you’re part of. I think you’ve got a feeling of that. Just see if you can hang in there to see what happens.’ And he did, and I’m really proud of him.”
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In his first season with the Chiefs, Charlton showed impressive flashes as a pass rusher. He earned two sacks and pressured quarterbacks on 21.4% of his pass-rushing snaps — an absurd number that was aided by a small sample size: six games with 90 total defensive plays.
In the seventh game, he fractured his ankle during the only play in which he was on the field. A situational pass rusher like Charlton would have been nice to have in the postseason — and in 2021, the need is still there.
The Chiefs should be able to bring him back on an inexpensive deal and give him another chance to prove his first-round talent.