Kansas City Chiefs trade idea: Justin Houston to the New York Jets

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 6: Outside linebacker Justin Houston
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 6: Outside linebacker Justin Houston /

As the Chiefs are making some shocking trades, what if they were to trade Justin Houston? Here’s a scenario to consider.

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking toward the future.

The trade of Marcus Peters, combined with the the team’s quick decisions on veterans Alex Smith, Derrick Johnson and Ron Parker (and the likely departures of Tamba Hali among others), indicate as much. Kansas City is also working to clean up, for the long term, the ugly mess that was their salary cap. That is why the Chiefs need to explore moving Justin Houston this offseason.

Why I believe the Chiefs should look into moving Justin Houston:

Salary Cap Relief

As current, Justin Houston appears likely to carry the highest cap number for the team this season at $20.6 million. If the Chiefs were to trade Justin Houston, the Chiefs would net 7.9 million in cap savings this year and would then create 12.7 million from the dead money in 2019.

If the organization is truly looking to solve their cap situation, which has been nursed along for years and ended up being a catalyst for John Dorsey leaving the team, moving Justin Houston creates a good amount of cap room this off season and allows the Chiefs to add younger players that are cheaper.

If the organization wants to make sure they redo the salary cap and the defense in the same offseason, moving Justin Houston creates cap room in the next two seasons but allows the Chiefs to add assets to build a new core.

Return Value

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Houston’s contract remains an example of an organization losing the salary cap game in getting contracts done, as Houston’s deal remains absurd for the production. How many times have the Chiefs held on to veterans until they can no longer truly play at a high level only to release them for nothing? (I’m looking at Tamba Hali among others.)

If the Chiefs are going to work to contend and stay viable for years, they have to continue to cultivate the top of their roster as well as the top and bottom. While the Chiefs are certainly not going to land a slew of first day picks, any assets coming back COMBINED with the salary cap relief can help the team.

Perhaps what we are seeing is a shift for the Chiefs toward an approach similar to what we’ve seen in New England. Often the Patriots will move guys, even if it’s a year before one would think they need to bail, to ensure they can get some quality assets allowing them to always build and add young (and cheap) talent to the roster.

A perfect example is when, in 2009,  New England traded defensive lineman Richard Seymour, a several-time Pro Bowl player, to the Raiders. In return, they received a first round pick two years down the road. They looked, saw an aging lineman and decided to move him for a return to add to their roster.

Contracts coming due

As has been previously mentioned, the Chiefs have some big financial decisions to take care of him the next couple seasons. After the 2019 season, Chris Jones, Tyreek Hill and acquired Kendall Fuller all have contracts expiring. After the 2020 season, Pat Mahomes fifth year contract option will be coming due, and the expected number for Mahomes 2020 option season is expected to be at or above 25 million. Why is this relevant now?

Because the Chiefs likely will be unable to use a franchise tag on any of the three previous mentioned players due to the Mahomes number. The Chiefs will need and likely want to front load a contract or two, allowing the organization additional wiggle room to add more players, add more talent and continue to work towards reaching their goals.


Houston has had his fair share of injuries in the past, and has missed a good amount of time. And while this past season Houston appeared to stay healthy, knee injuries can linger and hasten the decline of a player. For that reason, combined with the previously mentioned reasons, it’s good for teams to get out from a players before they watch a shell of themselves hobbling around on big money contracts.

Perhaps its time for the Chiefs to make a move before the effects of his knee injuries possibly show themselves in Houston’s on-field performance.

My trade idea involves Kansas City and New York Jets:

Kansas City receives:

3rd round pick (No. 72)

7th round pick (No. 235)

3rd round pick (2019)

New York receives:

OLB Justin Houston

Why does this make sense for the Chiefs?

Kansas City would have a bunch of mid round selections, 6 picks in the 2nd-4th rounds. There is a lot of value in those rounds. The Chiefs would likely be able to find multiple contributors with these picks at a bargain price.

Also, in 2019, the Chiefs in this situation now have two picks in the second and the third round. If the Chiefs need to make a move to get an impact type player, the Chiefs have the ammunition, and if not, they have the picks to address both needs and luxury type picks.

Kansas City also creates just shy of $8 million this season in cap space. That number can go a long way in adding young players in free agency, perhaps targeting another corner. (Kyle Fuller is an obvious name now that his brother Kendall has been acquired in the Alex Smith trade.)

Why does this make sense for the Jets?

The Jets need to win games, they have a slew of cap room to absorb the Houston contract without greatly impacting their push to find a quarterback, and don’t lose top picks to add a pass rusher. Assuming the Jets actually want Houston to rush the passer, they could view this trade idea as a steal. They already have two second round picks along with their own first round pick, so the third round pick is their fourth pick in the upcoming draft.

Next: What will the Chiefs do with Allen Bailey?

Do I think the Chiefs will make this trade, or any trade with Justin Houston? No, no I don’t. Then again, I didn’t expect the Chiefs to trade Marcus Peters either, especially this early in the offseason. However, it remains likely that Houston will be let go after the 2018 season as he becomes significantly cheaper to let go then to bring back. So I say strike now while you can sell to a team for which he could contribute for multiple seasons.