Justin Houston contract: Last need of the offseason?

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Feb 19, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks to the media at the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Like any seasoned veteran, no one is really going to care if he sits out of the early offseason workouts and organized team activities. And it is still another two months until veterans have to report to training camp on July 23. Even if Houston were to hold out of training camp, few would mind so long as he is on the field for Week 1 of the regular season.

The problem becomes that Houston has no real incentive to be on the field for that game. In fact, under the rules of the non-exclusive franchise tag, he has no incentive to be on the field until the Week 10 deadline for signing his franchise tender. Unless, of course, Kansas City is able to sign him to a long-term deal before then.

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  • On the surface, it is worrisome that the front office only has $2.6 million to work with when trying to sign Houston to a lucrative extension. However, you have to realize Houston getting a long-term deal would actually help the cap situation. Currently, Houston’s $13.1 million franchise tag is all counting against the 2015 cap. If Houston were to sign a six-year, $96 million pact, we are talking an average of $16 million per year.

    Again, it appears Kansas City would need to cut money from somewhere, because $16 million is more than $13.1. However, Houston’s money this year would largely be thrown into a signing bonus, which would not count against the cap. In all likelihood, his first-year number would be around $8 million or so, with it increasing substantially each of the next couple years.

    Even if you think the Chiefs have another need, this one is still the biggest. Let’s take a minute to remember what last year’s offseason was like and compare it to now.

    Before the 2014 free agency period started, the Kansas City Chiefs needed wide receivers. Shortly after it began they needed receivers and offensive linemen. Then the draft came and went, and they still needed receivers and offensive linemen. I was left scratching my head at how head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey could turn a two-win team into an 11-win team, and then ignore the team’s obvious needs.

    Granted, the organization did not completely forget. They brought in Jeff Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn and J’Marcus Webb, but we all knew that was no replacement for the the loss Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, and Branden Albert. The pass-catchers fared better with the drafting of De’Anthony Thomas, signing of undrafted rookie-free agent Albert Wilson, and the emergence of Travis Kelce as a monster at the tight end position.

    On the whole, though, we knew that the 2014 Chiefs would not be better than the previous year based on an overall improvement of talent level. And that left me feeling rather uneasy going into last season.

    Next: Better vibes going into 2015