On Thursday, former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston — more recently a defensive end for the Indianapolis Colts and now a free agent — posted Instragram photos showing himself working out while wearing a Chiefs helmet.
To see the photos, click the right arrow on the Instagram post to scroll through the photos. Houston is wearing the helmet in the third, fifth and sixth ones.
Does this mean that Houston — who was released by the team before the 2019 season after accumulating 78.5 sacks over an eight-year Kansas City career — might soon be returning?
Maybe. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
First, it’s pretty rare for a high-profile player who has been released from a team while still under contract — which is what the Chiefs did after hiring defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo — to later be re-signed to the team. It’s not impossible... but it’s rare.
Second, the Chiefs were presumed to release Houston only to get his large salary off their books. But it’s also true that with a new coordinator taking over, they may have wanted to make a significant change in the defensive culture. Everyone will agree that the culture did change under Spagnuolo — and Houston’s release may have played as large a role in that result as any other.
Third, Houston is now 32 years old. He’s likely to still have some football left in him — he started 32 games for the Colts over the last two seasons, collecting 19 sacks, 30 quarterback hits and three forced fumbles — so the Chiefs could sign him to a one-year “rental” contract to shore up their defensive line in 2021. But doing so would take snaps away from young players the team needs to develop — so the Chiefs might not see his signing as a step forward.
Besides... ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Thursday that Houston had received multiple offers for an opportunity to play an 11th NFL season. The possibility that he could be signed to a team-friendly one-year Chiefs contract may not be very strong.
So is it possible that Houston could return to Kansas City in 2021? Absolutely. Stranger things have been known to happen.
But aside from Houston’s Instagram post — which he could have done just to create stories like this one — there’s no reporting suggesting that’s going to happen. And there are likely to be significant reasons the Chiefs wouldn’t consider it.
Just the same... we’ll keep you posted.