Former Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston clears waivers

Houston is now a free agent able to sign with any team in the National Football League.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Justin Houston is now a free agent able to sign with any team in the National Football League.

A familiar face cleared waivers on the NFL's transaction wire on Wednesday, making him a free agent with only a few games to go in the 2023 regular season. Former Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston asked for his release from the Carolina Panthers and got it this week, and now the veteran is free to join any team he wants to chase a championship ring.

For those who are curious if a reunion in Kansas City is in order, you might as well put such thoughts out of your mind.

First, the Chiefs are relatively set at pass rusher—so much so that they're not even playing their first-round pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah any more than a handful of snaps per game. Charles Omenihu, Mike Danna, and George Karlaftis occupy the three primary edge rushing roles and Chris Jones even slides outside from time to time to take up more reps there as well. Houston just makes no sense on this roster.

Secondly, that ship has sailed. The Chiefs have actually been hard up for veteran help on the edges in recent years and yet there's never been a whiff of smoke in a reunion. Instead, the Chiefs have flirted with Melvin Ingram and Carlos Dunlap and even Terrell Suggs. It feels like any bridge has been burned (or that Steve Spagnuolo just has zero use for Justin Houston).

This season has been an interesting one for Houston because on the stat sheet, he's hit the wall that ultimately reaches everyone who doesn't walk away on their own terms. Houston is now 34 years old with a half sack in seven games this season for the Carolina Panthers. Then again, the Panthers are a train wreck of an organization and Houston had 9.5 sacks just a year ago, so that would be a steep drop in production.

Does Houston have anything left in the tank? He certainly knows the Baltimore Ravens well and could eye a return as they currently rule the AFC and control their own destiny for a top seed and home-field advantage through the postseason. Houston had 14 sacks over the last two years for Baltimore. Houston also enjoyed nice production in Indianapolis and they're on the verge of a postseason appearance themselves if they can stay the course at 8-6. Houston had 19 sacks in two seasons at Lucas Oil Stadium in his first two seasons following his tenure with the Chiefs.

As for that stint, Houston left K.C. as one of the best pass rushers in team history. He set a team record with 22 sacks in 2014 and went to four consecutive Pro Bowls with the Chiefs. Even the fact that we're still talking about Houston as an active defender when he was a Scott Pioli draft pick is quite amazing.

Houston has 112 career sacks in 13 NFL seasons.