A big-time pass rusher hits the market, as Chiefs cut Justin Houston

Justin Houston was once thought of as one of the NFL’s biggest defensive stars, and signed six-year, $101 million extension with the Kansas City Chiefs four years ago.

That contract is why Houston is looking for a new team as of Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs cut Houston, according to Yahoo Sports' Terez Paylor. Having Houston’s deal and Dee Ford on a franchise tag was too expensive for the Chiefs.

With that, the market for pass rushers that had been depleted due to the franchise tag has an intriguing name available for teams with a need. And plenty of teams could use a pass rusher.

Justin Houston was a dominant player with Chiefs

When Houston signed that mega-deal in 2015, he was coming off an amazing season. Houston had 22 sacks in 2014, making a run at the NFL single-season record. Since then, he hasn’t posted a double-digit sack season.

Injuries have bothered Houston, who is still an effective pass rusher even as he just turned 30 years old. The past two seasons he posted 18.5 sacks. He hasn’t replicated that ridiculous All-Pro season of 2014, but he’s still a valuable player.

It’s just that the Chiefs, even as they try to build a defense that could lift a great offense to a Super Bowl, couldn’t afford Houston anymore. And no other team thought he was worth his 2019 salary of $15.25 million either, considering the Chiefs couldn’t find a trade partner.

The Kansas City Chiefs released linebacker Justin Houston. (AP)
The Kansas City Chiefs released linebacker Justin Houston. (AP)

Houston will get interest

For teams that held out hope that players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Ford and Frank Clark could hit the market, only to see them all get the franchise tag, Houston could be a nice fallback option.

Health is a concern for Houston as he heads into his 30s, considering he hasn’t played all 16 games since 2014. But that’s why he won’t come at the staggering price he was worth four years ago either.

Teams will call Houston, while Kansas City figures out a way to improve its defense without him.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab