Chiefs have challenges ahead to keep defense together

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Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah (39) celebrates against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mike DeVito

DeVito has been a valuable player when healthy for the Chiefs. He is one of the better run-stuffing 3-4 defensive ends in the league and has shown he’s a company man, taking $2.5 million less this year to stay in Kansas City. However, DeVito is 30. With a quality (and younger) player in Jaye Howard behind him, along with Mike Catapano, Kansas City will let DeVito walk.

Justin Houston

This is the major storyline. Houston is the best pass rusher in the NFL, coming within a half-sack of the single-season record last year with 22. Houston is also 26 years old and getting better with each season. Yet, Houston’s agent Joel Segal and Dorsey have been at odds over a long-term deal, leading to the franchise tag. Technically, the Chiefs could slap the tag on Houston again, but my guess is the two sides work out a deal of over $100 million before July 15. Houston is a great, homegrown player. Dorsey will take care of him.

Derrick Johnson

Dang, this one is brutal. I genuinely believe it comes down to how well Johnson bounces back from his Achilles injury. At 32 years old, Johnson is no spring chicken but he keeps himself in great shape and has only improved with age. Even though Kansas City selected Ramik Wilson and D.J. Alexander in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, this year, my guess is Dorsey would like to keep Johnson around if he’s productive. He’s a leader of men and a great player.

Tamba Hali

This is going to be the last year of Hali in a Chiefs uniform. Look, we all love Hali for his play on the field and his selfless nature in taking a $7-million pay cut despite still being an excellent player. All that said, Dee Ford was not drafted in the first round to sit on the bench. Ford will get one more year of seasoning before stepping into Hali’s role permanently. This will be painful, but it is what good teams do.

Next: Onto the secondary...