Houston, a free agent following the season, is believed to be seeking a new contract. At a base salary of $1.4 million this season, Houston would figure to be the second-lowest paid among the projected starters on the Chiefs' defense, which ranked in the top 10 a season ago. And Houston was a big reason why: In 2013, he produced 11 sacks in 11 games, a year after a 10-sack 2012 season in his second year as a pro.
Houston has stayed away for all of the Chiefs' voluntary workouts to this point.
The Chiefs' defense looked like a lesser unit without him on the field last season. Although the first-round pick of pass rusher Dee Ford received mixed reviews, some view Ford as a crucial insurance policy against Houston or Tamba Hali getting injured, or Houston perhaps walking after the season if the two sides cannot strike a deal.
The Chiefs are in a tough situation. They know they must take care of quarterback Alex Smith, and there are two years remaining on Hali's five-year, $56 million contract, which he signed in 2011. The Chiefs already have had to part ways with starting corner Brandon Flowers for both financial and football reasons, and they know that losing Houston isn't an appealing option — in the short or long term.
Houston has not indicated if he'll consider holding out from training camp. He'll be subject to fines of up to about $70,000 if he skips the entire three-day camp this week.
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