Kansas City Chiefs: Breaking down the linebackers

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Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) celebrates after a sack against the San Diego Chargers in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Houston

Houston came out with a fire in 2014, leading the entire NFL in sacks with 22, only a half-sack short of the single-season record. Houston has averaged 49 tackles per season in his four years. He also averages a staggering 12 sacks and is quickly rising to being one of the best linebackers Kansas City has ever had. In 2014, Houston broke Hall-of-Famer Derrick Thomas’ single-season sack record of 20.

This offseason, there has been a lot of speculation if the star player will remain with the team. Getting the non-exclusive franchise tag, Houston can field offers from other teams, and the Chiefs will have the option to match or be given two first-round picks from the signing team.

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  • General manager John Dorsey has been working with Houston’s people in order to keep him in the organization. Even Hali, during OTA’s, said Houston wants to be in KC, so it may just be a matter of time and getting all the details right. Hopefully both sides can reach agreement before the July 15 deadline and one that keeps him in Kansas City for a long time. In 2015, look for him to be just as good.

    Other notable linebackers

    Kansas City has collected veterans such as Frank Zombo, Josh Mauga and James-Michael Johnson. They also have Dee Ford, a first-found selection in 2014, waiting in the wings for this team.

    Zombo, the former Green Bay Packer, has been a rotational player throughout his career. In 2013, Zombo recorded 23 tackles, two sacks and one interception. Zombo is a valuable backup player and solid on special teams.

    Mauga had been with the New York Jets before he came over to the Chiefs in 2014. Mauga, much like Zombo, was a rotational defender during his time in New York. When Johnson went down against the Tennessee Titans, he was called upon to be the replacement for the Pro Bowler.

    Mauga really stepped up to prove he is a valuable for Kansas City. The former University of Nevada star led the team with 103 tackles and was rewarded with a three-year contract, and deservedly so. This year, we will see Mauga back into a rotational role but with Johnson nursing a season-ending injury from last year, he will maintain an important role.

    James-Michael Johnson came to the Chiefs in 2013 and has played the same role as the aforementioned players. Averaging 34 tackles in his first two years with the team, he has been a good player for the organization.

    Next: The enigma...