With the Brandon Flowers riddle now solved for the Kansas City Chiefs, the attention turns to Justin Houston and his desired contract extension.
Mandatory minicamp beings tomorrow at Arrowhead and the presence of Houston will say a lot about where the Houston is in his talks with the Chiefs about a new contract. Retaining Houston now becomes a serious priority for the Chiefs now that they have opened up future cap space to presumable afford the heft contracts Houston and quarterback Alex Smith will command.
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In terms of what it would mean to the Chiefs if Houston did not show up for mandatory minicamp, it’s little. If anything, it gives rookie Dee Ford more snaps with the first-string defense to learn his new position. We’re talking about three practices in shorts and no pads, Houston missing those three days won’t mean much for him or the team in the long run. Certainly having everyone on hand reduces the drama of the situation but getting Ford more experience may be worth the media distraction during the week.
Things start to get dicey if Houston misses a significant portion or all of training camp. Kansas City is going to need to figure out some new elements to their pass rush for when they have Ford, Houston, and Tamba Hali all on the field at the same time. Add in the difficulty of the Chiefs early schedule and the need for everyone to be on the same page and ready to go only increases.
One would hope the negotiations between Houston and the Chiefs go smoothly enough that they have some sort of a contract agreement before or shortly after the start of camp. With Flowers contract out of the picture and the return of cap flexibility coming in 2016, Kansas City should easily be able to structure a contract that treats Houston fairly and puts the team in a good position financially. Unlike Smith, it is quite obvious the Chiefs want and need to keep Houston in Kansas City. That motivation should be enough to get a deal done quickly.
Still, the unknown looms with the Houston negations. We’ve got an idea of what Smith may be targeting and understand the issues surrounding his contract. However, things have been very quiet from the Houston camp. The way this offseason is going in the minds of some Chiefs fans, silence (and potentially absence) may strike more fear than calm.