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Chiefs have not released Justin Houston despite reports; trade discussions continue

There was a report out earlier on Monday that the Kansas City Chiefs had cut pass rusher Justin Houston. That’s apparently not true — at least not yet, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Pelissero wrote that “while it may happen eventually, sources say the Chiefs have not released OLB Justin Houston.” He further explained that the Chiefs “continue to have trade discussions involving Houston.”

As Pelissero notes, several of the top pass rushers set to hit the market were franchise-tagged earlier on Monday, which could increase demand for Houston on the trade market.

Whether through release or a trade, it sounds like Houston’s time in Kansas City is running out. If that’s the case, it will end an eight-year run between player and franchise. The Chiefs drafted Houston in the third round in 2011 out of Georgia. He became a near-immediate star, making four straight Pro Bowls from 2012-15, and being selected as a First-Team All-Pro in 2014.

His 2014 season was truly incredible. He racked up 22 sacks and established himself as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. However, he has struggled with injuries the past few seasons, and his production has declined as well. Still, he has at least nine sacks in each of the past two seasons despite not playing a full 16 games in either year.

He is now 30 but still clearly capable of producing. Many teams will be interested if he does hit the open market. His hefty contract may prove difficult to trade, but he will be a hot commodity in free agency if he is released.

The Chiefs aren’t in good position relative to cap space, and are trying to free up Houston’s salary to use elsewhere. They are reportedly planning on franchise-tagging fellow outside linebacker Dee Ford, and are apparently going to shop him in trade talks as well. The Chiefs’ defense could look entirely different from what we saw last year.