Justin Houston: Most Valuable, Least Valued


Justin Houston is an edge-rushing nightmare who gives quarterbacks insomnia. You don’t where he’s coming from, but you know he’s coming.

He’s basically Freddy Krueger.

Week after week, the Chiefs Pro Bowler sets his sights and takes lunch money—this past Sunday was no exception.

Houston corralled Philip Rivers four times in Kansas City’s 2014 finale, totaling 22 sacks on the year. As a result, he’s now tied with Jared Allen and Mark Gastineau for the second-most single-season sacks in NFL history, finishing a hair short of Michael Strahan’s asterisk-stained record of 22.5. (Favre’s original sell job, pre-nose-hair trimmers.)

The single-season total also deemed No. 50 the franchise leader, eclipsing Derrick Thomas’ previous benchmark of 20. To put the feat under a different light: Houston recorded 22 sacks this season; prior to Week 17, the rest of his teammates had combined for 21.

The statistical smorgasbord listed above should be enough reason to secure Houston’s future. However, it’s impossible to gauge just how criminally underpaid he is/was until his earnings are compared to those of his teammates.

Here are a handful of Chiefs with higher 2014 payouts than Houston’s $1.4 million (base) salary: Vance Walker, Joe Mays, Allen Bailey, Donnie Avery, Chase Daniel, Anthony Fasano and Dustin Colquitt.

A punter—a very good punter, but a punter—raked in over $1.5 million more than Houston. And if you include bonuses, said gap grows to $2.2 million.

Instead of veering off into an “NFL contracts are tissues” back-and-forth, though, let’s just agree on this: No matter how lavish his new contract is—franchise tag or otherwise—Houston has earned every cent of it.

Contract information provided by Spotrac. Statistics provided by Sports Illustrated and Pro-Football-Reference.com.